DON’T GET ELECTED, TO GET US EVICTED
It has become a universally accepted dictum that the primary role of governments everywhere is to provide for the welfare and security of citizens. This overriding social imperative has led to the incorporation of these fundamental principles into the body of laws that govern citizens especially in a ‘democratic environment’. Provision of adequate and decent housing and shelter for citizens is a critical element of good governance.
Sadly, over the years, the policies, actions and activities of the Lagos state government has indicated a completely different and countervailing approach to the welfare of the people, especially the poor and vulnerable, when it comes to the issue of housing as well as provision and access to decent work places within the metropolis. Under the guise of urban renewal, slum clearing, demolition of illegal structures, the state government has over the years, embarked on a consistent campaign of forced evictions and demolition of informal work places, including markets, mechanic villages and other informal work clusters, rendering hundreds of thousands of people homeless and jobless.
In most cases, these unfortunate and anti-poor initiatives are caused by the following motivations:
1. Land grabbing by private developers working in concert with those in government using the instrumentality of the law and levers of governance in a perverse and wrongful manner to serve private interest
2. Land grabbing by powerful individuals who most often compromise state government officials.
3. Opaque and autocratic city planning processes that fail to factor in the needs of the poor on the ground.
Sometimes, the strategies and tactics used include:
1. Divide and Rule Tactics by government and investors/developers to create confusion for the purpose of exploiting communities.
2. The propping up and compromising of local community leaders in an unholy alliance with government and investors leading to the deprivation of the peoples lands.
Worried by this spate of relentless attacks on work places and communities, we a coalition of civil society organizations have decided to come together for the purpose of engaging political office holders and aspiring political office holders on the need to halt the continuing forced evictions of citizens from their dwelling and work places and in working with these entities, to fashion a better alternative to the problem of urbanization and the building of a mega-city that is for all regardless of social status and standing.
Under the theme of ‘DON’T GET ELECTED, TO GET US EVICTED’, our aim during this election period is to advocate for a total halt of these attacks on poor communities who are being punished for the state’s urban planning failures and to put pressure on politicians/political parties during the 2019 election campaign in Lagos to commit to stopping unfair and forced evictions on getting elected into office.
We are ever ready to cooperate with the government to realize a Lagos state that answers passionately and effectively to the yearnings of her citizens but will be ready to oppose government policies that undermine the right to decent shelter and work of the citizens. The activities of the Fashola and Ambode administrations are still very fresh in our minds. Their ban on street trading, and demolitions as well as willful, unconscionable evictions of thousands still leave sour tastes in our mouths. The disasters of Otodo Gbame, Ilubirin, Ebute Ikate, water front communities which led to tens of thousands of families being rendered homeless, as well as countless deaths at the hands of security personnel and subsequent induced health related issues must not be allowed to happen again.
As a group we say NO to Lagos State Government’s lack of respect for the rights of the urban poor living and working in Lagos and its disregard for the rule of law, as has been displayed in the repeated attacks on Otodo Gbame community in November 2016 and March 2017 in violation of a subsisting court order. The anti - poor attitude of the previous and present Lagos State government is deeply inconsistent with a true commitment to building a resilient and inclusive city. Over the past years we have been engaging the government with all our goodwill and faith in a dialogue on climate resilient and inclusive urban planning. After all these years, government still lacks several of the essential qualities for building a resilient city – it is not reflective, resourceful, flexible, nor inclusive – and we believe it has demonstrated no intention to imbibe these qualities.
This is a call to all political candidates in Lagos to make known their agenda for informal settlements and workplaces in Lagos State whose activities creates significant job opportunities in Lagos, which some analysts put at 68 percent of the total jobs in the state. The income generated from the sector helps Lagos State's economy. Though the state government does not publish this aggregated information; the informal sector is projected to have contributed approximately 40 percent or N111bn to the internally generated revenue pool of the state and local governments, annually.
It is important that our politicians acknowledge the important role the informal sector serves in building the economy of Lagos state from transportation to housing to the retail sector. Politicians should refrain from implementing actions such as forced evictions and demolitions that are detrimental to the informal sector’s ability to operate effectively and productively, rather, we call on Lagos State government to reflect the inclusive governance precepts of the international community exemplified in the following:
1. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economy growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all SDG # 8
2. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable SDG # 11
3. Promote local development strategies, both rural and urban, including regulated access for use of public space and regulated access to public natural resources for subsistence livelihoods ILO Recommendation 204
4. Recognize the contribution of the working poor in the informal economy…Their livelihoods, working conditions and income security, legal and social protection, access to skills, assets and other support services, and voice and representation should be enhanced.
UN New Urban Agenda, 2016.
FIGHT POVERTY NOT THE POOR