As a result of the worrisome discordant tunes from the Lagos State Government and traders affected by the demolition of the Alaba International market, research experts from Nextier have told the government to publish names of the 17 buildings affected.
Nextier said that the conflicting claims about the effort at distorting public policy with ethnic narratives or extending vengeance as public policy is unhealthy for fostering unity in diversity.
It also told the Logos State authorities to be neutral, fair and accommodating in implementing essential policy decisions.
These, among others, were contained in the Nextier report authored by Dr. Ben Nwosu, an Associate Consultant at Nextier SPD and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Development Studies, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Senior Lecturer at the Political Science Department, Nsukka Campus and Dr. Ndu Nwokolo, a Managing Partner and Chief Executive at Nextier SPD and an Honorary Research Fellow School of Government and Society, University of Birmingham, UK.
Nextier in the report contended that, “it is a known truth that the collapse of buildings has recently become a common occurrence in Lagos state. This is worsened by the soil structure of Lagos and the fact that most of Lagos is swampy. Besides, developers can be reckless if unsupervised.
“It is therefore expected that a responsible government should take measures to actively and responsibly regulate buildings for safety. On this note, the Lagos state government is normally expected to enhance the safety of buildings in the state irrespective of who owns them. Indeed, some of the buildings demolished do not belong to the Igbo.
“This official position may have been made available to the leadership of the Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze, to prompt their pronouncement that the demolition is not targeted at the Igbo. It is also important to add that the demolition is not of the entire Alaba International market.
“Nonetheless, to demolish a building which is also a place of livelihood, adequate care is supposed to be taken to ensure that people’s sources of livelihood are not unduly destroyed or menaced. The hues of this demolition are more about the process than the action.
“If the people had been informed properly, the Lagos state government should show evidence of such information to dissipate the suspicions of vendetta.”
According to the report, the narrative of including buildings beyond those originally marked for demolition was corroborated by Pastor Omotosho, a landlord who was affected.
It added: “Thus, the 17 structures the government indicated it would demolish were surpassed. The market leadership estimates that over 30 structures were destroyed in the sudden exercise.
“Further information regarding the demolition is a claim by the traders that three days before the demolition, several affected traders paid the sum of 70,000 NGN to acquire allocation documents because their plaza did not have one. Indeed, the traders have evidence that showed a payment of 4,401,439NGN into the Lagos State Consolidated Revenue Account. At the same time, 1,561,503 NGN was paid through Lagos State Building Control Agency on June 15, 2023.
“Thereafter, the notice to quit the place was brought to them on June 16, 2023. The demolition started two days after the information without allowing them sufficient time to move their goods. Some traders in Alaba Market, including their leadership, see the demolition as an effort to take them out of the market and sell the recovered land to Chinese investors to build a heavy mall in the recovered space.
According to the report: “The Lagos State Government should publish the 17 affected buildings in Alaba Market so that if some structures were demolished in error, the government would find ways of compensating the victims.
“Market leadership should take good care to ensure that any new structure being erected in the market shows evidence of approval from appropriate government offices to prevent illegal expansion or reinforcement of structures that should be demolished.
“The Lagos State authorities should demonstrate their neutrality and fairness in the process of implementing its safety standards. It is necessary to investigate and refund concerned traders who made payments before demolitions.
“When implementing public policy with the likelihood of ethnic connotation, Governments at all levels are advised to do a lot more consultations and engagement with stakeholders whom such action will affect most.”
It said that Implementation of safety standards in buildings is a task that must not be compromised for anything and that in order to be seen as being fair and neutral, the Lagos State authorities should in the process of that implementation publish the number of demolished buildings and the details of each one, the dates of proper information to the affected occupants/landlord regarding its condition and the decision of the government about the structure as well as when it would be implemented.
“This is how to assure other ethnicities, especially the Igbo most affected by the demolition, that they are not targeted for political vengeance,” it said.
The report further stated that since some structures have been marked for demolition and the traders still paid money into Lagos State Consolidated Revenue Account and the LASBCA account three days before the demolition, it is necessary to investigate the said payment and refund the affected traders promptly.
“The claims about the number of buildings marked for demolition, which is 17, and the number demolished are conflicting. The Lagos State Government should publish the 17 affected buildings in Alaba Market so that if some structures were demolished in error, the government would find ways of compensating the victims,” it said.
While advising market leadership to take good care to ensure that any new structure being erected in the market shows evidence of approval from appropriate government offices to prevent illegal expansion or reinforcement of structures that should be demolished, the report said that way, they would partner with the government and prevent rash policies that affect their businesses.
“When implementing public policy with the likelihood of ethnic connotation, governments at all levels are advised to do a lot more consultations and engagement with stakeholders whom such action will affect most. They should also strategically communicate their intentions and possible outcomes to the likely affected, thereby removing any biases,” it added.