With the rash spate of demolition of structures in Lagos, Kano, Abuja and other parts of the country, the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 general election, Mr Peter Obi has weighed in, just as many Nigerians, including protesters who took to the streets in Kano on Monday.
Recall that traders in the Alaba International Market, residents of Kano, and Abuja have watched their homes, shops, businesses, and even monuments pulled down in these three major cities of the country. Political undertones have been read to the demolitions in Kano and Lagos.
On Tuesday, Obi made a passionate appeal to various governments involved in the demolition of ‘illegal’ structures across the country to show humanness and not be unduly punitive and insensitive.
Obi said in a tweet in his handle on Tuesday that while some of these ongoing demolitions may be excusable, they have nonetheless, left many victims, mostly ordinary people who erred innocently or were ill-informed or misguided in terrible condition.
“Necessary corrective measures to planning or zoning violations by governments, need not be punitive or unduly insensitive. There should always be room for compassion and humane correction in taking any remedial action.
“We face a paradox: with a 70 million housing deficit and vast unmet housing needs nationwide, some resort to the self-help of building structures that serve as homes, businesses, SMEs offices, and stores. Invariably, some of these structures were either not approved or were built with the tacit collusion or approval of the local authorities.
Obi passionately appeals to various governmental authorities “to marry the need to enforce compliance with extant regulatory regimes, with consideration for human feelings and necessary compassion.
He noted that In Nigeria today, ‘we live in a time of extreme difficulties for citizens because of stagnated income, spiraling inflation, huge unemployment escalating socio-economic costs and high costs of living. Nigerian citizens should, therefore, not be subjected to the additional stress of unexpected hardship.
The former Anambra state Governor said that ‘the various concerned governments should consider paying compensation to those who have lost properties and livelihood in these unfortunate demolitions to ameliorate their suffering. Such compensation should fall under the rubric of eminent domain that applies to properties and assets acquired or demolished in the public interest.
He finally reminded the government that it cannot be overemphasized that their primary duty and responsibility is to care for and protect their citizens.