Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



By Chinedu Bosah

The right to decent housing and environment for all is an inalienable right but profit motive has led to wave of demolitions by successive governments (states and federal) in Nigeria that undermines the interest of the vast majority. Lagos leads in these attacks. The first major demolition in recent memory, being Maroko carried out in 1990 by the then Military Administrator of Lagos State, Colonel Raji Rasaki. Several other communities, markets, thousands of houses have been brutally destroyed and hundreds of thousands rendered homeless while hundreds of people have died as a consequence.

Typical of all demolitions, the popular Tejuosho Market was demolished after a tiny part was gutted by fire on December 18, 2007 rendering hundreds of traders jobless and Tejuosho Property and Development Company Limited is one of the beneficiaries by letting out shops from N65,000 and N1.5 million monthly. Most of the shops are yet to be rented because it is unaffordable and most trading that takes place are traders who display their wares on the floor and on the wall of the fence. For now the funds expended on the new Tejuosho Market cannot be recovered given the low patronage as a result of unaffordability but the loan is government guaranteed and public funds will be used to offset the loss.

In 2010, a part of Makoko was destroyed this rendering thousands of people homeless without alternative homes. Auto mechanic Workers, journeymen and traders have been chased out of several mechanic villages thereby rendering hundreds jobless. These sites are being taken over by private developers linked to key members of the Lagos State Government and the ruling elite. Markets and traders are not spared of the waves of demolitions. The popular Ile-Epo Market was demolished on April 27, 2018 by the Lagos State Government while thugs and heavily armed policemen harassed traders. Wares worth hundreds of millions were destroyed and hundreds of traders rendered jobless. Just like other demolitions, a property company known as Total Value Integrated Limited and other vested interest in the Lagos will profit while traders and workers are on the losing end.

Otodo-Gbame, a riverine community in Lagos suffered the same fate when over 30,000 people were evicted forcefully between November 2016 and April 2017 and the community destroyed and taken over by the Lagos State Government in violation of a court order and judgment of Justice Surajudeen Onigbanjo of the Lagos State High Court. During the demolitions, 9 persons drowned while 15 people were missing. In the same vein, about 10,000 people were evicted from Ijora Badia in September 2015. Riverine communities like Otodo-Gbame whose primary occupation is fishing can be developed alongside the development of the fishing industry wherein basic fishing facilities, basic infrastructure (education, health etc.) and training are publicly organized and supported. This is the only way to develop the communities, grow the economy and create jobs on a sustained basis rather than this top-down, profit-driven, ruthless and land grabbing method of Governor Ambode and other members of the ruling elite. But instead of doing this, the Lagos state government is grabbing the lands on behalf of big time property developers who hopes to make huge profit by turning these fishing communities on the coastline to luxurious beach fronts, resorts and hotels etc.

The Ambode-led APC government’s elitist and profit-first policies indicate that developmental policies are top-down, brutal, exploitative, corrupt and fundamentally anti-people. Lagos State Government needs to build at least one million housing units in the next 10 years to fix the housing deficits but the Lagos State governments since 1999 has evicted hundreds of thousands of people from their houses and communities without adequate compensation paid to victims thereby creating more housing crisis. In line with the pro-rich policies, the poor will have to give way for the rich to take over. It is obviously the failure of successive capitalist government in Lagos State and other governments across the federation as well as the federal government that have created shanties, homelessness, poor environment and generally underdevelopment and the development for a few privileged people is incapable of moving society forward. Hence, the victims of long years of misrule have been subjected to further and sustained homelessness, joblessness sorrow, tears and blood.

It is only a Socialist programme that organizes society from below on the basis of a democratically planned economy to meet the needs of all that can fundamentally resolve the crisis created by capitalism.