Concerned Nigerians who are desirous of making Lagosians have better bargain in the rebuilding process of the commercial capital of the country and pursuit of good life have added their voices on the way forward.
In a statement by Secretary General
Federation of Informal Workers of Nigeria (FIWON) Gbenga Komolafe, Coordinator, Housing and Community Upgrade
Nigerian Slum / Informal Settlement Federation (Federation) Chief Raymond Gold and Coordinator, Rethink Cities Initiative, Deji Akinpelu said what happened recently during some protests across the country drew international and local interests.
According to the group, whilst violence and carnage was raging in certain quarters and streets of the city after peaceful protesters were shot at, residents came together, no matter the age, class, religion or ethnic group, to protect each other’s’ lives and properties because they love their neighborhood.
“We take this opportunity to commiserate with all citizens of Lagos over the loss of lives, and destruction of both public and private assets. We believe it is time to pause and to reflect on the structural shortcomings in the way the city has been governed. These shortcomings have quenched its citizens resolve and determination to strive for the best as individuals and as communities.
“The backlash against public buildings (police stations, local governments, courts) is a sign of the growing disaffection between these symbols of state power and ordinary citizens.
Future backlash can be avoided if Lagos State Government embarks on a careful, citizens’ driven rebuilding agenda and ensures that the rebuilding reflects the principles of neighborhood and diversity.”
The group maintained that the rebuilding process is driven by trusted and committed community members and not by party members and private sector contractors.
The statement noted that every citizen must have the chance to access any executive or administrative position in the Lagos State Government apparatus based on merit, dedication and professional qualification; but independent of age, origin, wealth or party affiliation.
“As such, the rebuilding period has to be used as an opportunity to focus on holistic and long term transformation of governance, institutional set-up, service delivery methodologies, approaches to engagements among the stakeholders and the processes of implementing the larger vision of Lagos. Reforms in the following areas are therefore indispensable:
“While SARS was focused on upper middle-class young people for profiling and extortion, other police formations also target informal workers doing their work on the streets and public spaces for harassment and extortion. All levels of government in Lagos parade an array of punishment focused law enforcement agencies like “Kick against Indiscipline”, “Environmental Sanitation Unit.
“The ambitious vision to create a utopian version of modernist urbanism in an African setting has led to direct hostility – expressed by numerous laws and regulations – towards urban informality, which is the dominant system of production and social reproduction of the majority. In addition to violent evictions and forced displacements, artisans, market women and mobile vendors are often displaced from their places of work without alternative arrangements.
“We encourage Lagos State Government and Lagos residents to join us in embracing a different vision of the city of Lagos which will prevent future anarchy and increase the trust of the citizens in their government:
Lagos is a city driven by its biggest resource – the people with their enterprise, creativity, determination and their intelligence to negotiate urban space in the most efficient ways,” the statement noted.