Lagos Govt’s Remodelling Of Markets Is Where Indigenes Lost To Igbo Business

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By

Hon. Rahman Owokoniran

At last, the last general elections brought to the front burner the issue of the oppression of Lagos market men and women. It is a known fact that government policies dictate economic dynamics upscale or downscale.

Lagos State’s policy on market today is skewed against the traditional market men and women. Market lands were allocated by local governments to be developed for trading in the remotest parts of town. Most of the markets were located in swampy areas of communities. The colossal amount of money required for sand-filling can best be imagined. Over time, most of these markets had to develop their infrastructure and provide their conveniences without support from government. More often than not, they had to remodel their stalls at the insistence of government for environmental upgrading.

Despite all such personal investments, all the government presence they ever saw was revenue collection agents.

Traders made all the sacrifices, only for the same government, 30-40 years down the line, to decree their ejection from their market investments overnight. It is not only inhuman and insensitive but it is a violation of the rights of the market men and women. Some 30 years back, when markets were remodelled by the Lagos government, the original allottees had the right of first placement. At worst, they would be provided with alternative stall allocations. Government in the 60s up until the late 90s were more sensitive to Human Rights than the administration that took over Lagos since the inception of this Fourth Republic in 1999.

Our traditional markets were displaced at government’s will or by a mysterious inferno. In this way, the market men and women were constantly violated. When these market men and women are displaced, who reaps the benefits? The government, in collaboration with the banks, swing in to “modernise” the market and sell shops to the highest bidders.

When the government that is supposed to protect and encourage the people’s growth and prosperity throw them under the bus, traders are left to grope in the wilderness of despair and hopelessness. They have no access to their markets anymore and no alternative is provided. No compensation is paid either. Other governments usually discover the void and tap into it, encouraging their own people by providing the capital to invest in property and commerce. There is no vacuum in nature. The vacuum created by this government becomes occupied by people encouraged to raise their own revenue.

Let us stop putting our people down for the wrong reasons.

Lagos government prides itself on achieving record revenue generation. Let the same government showcase its track-record of human development as a way to generate revenue for the state.

Let the people know what proportion of the revenue is invested in the people. While the government continues amassing revenue as speculated, the benefit accruable to the people is marginal. More pupils and students are out of school every year. Health services are almost non-existent. More and more people are rendered homeless daily. Yet massive loans, spanning over 50 years, have been borrowed, awaiting payment by generations yet unborn.

Our people are poorer because this same government will do business with its perceived enemies rather than seek the economic improvement of its indigenous people. Yet the government continues to fool its own people by fuelling tribal divisions to distract the people. This is worse than the colonial era. This is autocracy per excellence.

Not only do they lose their businesses and business locations, these traders sometimes become homeless. In a state incapable of bridging its housing deficits, many of these folks make their stalls their homes. They do business there in the daytime and convert it to their bedroom in the night. That is their reality. When they lose such abodes, they resort to living under the bridge with their families.

The government will like us to believe that Lagos is prosperous; but this can only be measured by the people’s income per capita, people’s higher standard of living and other economic indices that have not shown good or healthy signs in the last 24 years.

Ibos are not our problem. Rather, it is our government policies or zero-policies that are our undoing. Call the government out to invest in a prosperous Lagos or we continue to suffer the consequences in the form of economic depression.

We cannot have it any other way. All those suggestions for handouts from government to Lagosians are unacceptable. Those suggestions presuppose that Lagosians are not competitive with others or they lack the capacity to hold up on their own.

These innuendos about people held in captivity are uncalled for. They are not only unacceptable but also condemnable because they are condescending. Lagosians are very resilient people. Therefore, what we ask for is to be provided the enabling environment to compete.

The government of Lagos has pressed its legs on the necks of Lagosian for too long.

Market men and women need to be educated about their rights and privileges within the confines of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Call the government out to invest in prosperous Lagos or we continue to suffer the consequence in economic depression. It cannot be any other way.

This article is only limited to markets and the market men and women who are not suspecting that the Parks and Garages Commission as being managed by Lagos State would gradually take over the control of market securities. This will make the markets more accessible for government to take possession of much more easily.

Ara Eko, e o fura!

HON. RAHMAN OWOKONIRAN IS PDP SOUTH-WEST ZONAL SECRETARY

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