The Labour Party’s Presidential candidate, Peter Obi, expressed concern about the ongoing demolitions of properties by state governments, asserting that such actions are exacerbating the plight of poor Nigerians. Writing on his X (formerly Twitter) handle, he emphasized the need for empathy from the government, especially considering the challenging economic conditions facing Nigerians. Obi argued that, instead of adding to people’s hardships, the government should implement measures aimed at alleviating poverty.
Expressing dismay, Obi urged a more compassionate approach, suggesting that the current economic challenges demand a focus on policies lifting people out of poverty. He emphasized that even if there were violations, the timing is inopportune given the prevailing economic hardships. The former Anambra governor appealed to state governors to enforce regulations sensibly, considering the human impact, especially on retirees and the elderly who invest their life savings in their properties.
Obi drew attention to the severe financial stress faced by the poor and highlighted instances where demolished properties represented the lifelong savings and retirement homes of the aged and incapacitated. He called on governments involved in such actions to demonstrate compassion and consider the broader implications on the already struggling populace.
The backdrop to Obi’s statement is the ongoing demolitions in various states, particularly Lagos, where authorities claim to be enforcing “state laws.” The move has sparked public outcry, with many speculating political motives behind the demolitions. Lagos Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab, mentioned plans for further demolitions based on contraventions of drainage laws.
On a Channels Television program, Oluyinka Olumide, the Lagos Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, explained that the structures being demolished were hastily constructed during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. He challenged affected property owners in areas like Ikota, Lekki, Alaba, Ajao Estate, Abule Ado, Ladipo market, and others to provide building approvals, assuring that approved structures would not be demolished.
In light of these developments, the call for a more compassionate and considerate approach by Obi resonates with the broader concerns about the impact of such demolitions on the vulnerable segments of society. As the debate continues, the focus remains on finding a balance between enforcing regulations and safeguarding the welfare of citizens, especially during challenging economic times.
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