By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowopejo
The stakeholdersâ€™ meeting between the Lagos State Government and community leaders representing Ibeju-Lekki and Epe council areas over the proposed site of an international airport in the area ended inconclusively as stakeholders clamoured for royalty rather than being paid compensation.
The representatives of the 65 communities at the meeting yesterday rose sternly against the plan to use their land for the proposed airport. The governmentâ€™s representative was led by the Permanent Secretary of the state Land Bureau, Mr. Gbenga Ashafa, with Chairman of Epe Local Government Area in attendance.
However, speaking at the meeting well attended by the village chiefs and leaders, Ashafa urged the representatives to support the governmentâ€™s plan, saying they would all be compensated.
However, in a swift reaction, the villagers rejected the compensation offered by the state government but preferred to partner with which ever company or individual that would build the airport on the land.
According to Prince Abduraheem Owolabi of Ogungbo community who spoke on behalf of the communities, the issue of land acquisition is beyond compensation now, adding: â€œWe donâ€™t need government compensation. What we need now is a Memorandum of Understanding between either the government or the company that is planning to site an airport on our land.â€
Owolabi who claimed to be a lawyer said the discussion over the location of the airport was beyond the permanent secretary, calling on the government to reschedule a meeting where the modalities and terms of acquisition would be adequately spelt out to the land owners.
â€œWe are not illiterates. We see what is going on in the developed countries. Iâ€™m not a politician and I take bold to challenge any government. We are not ready to take any compensation. The government must tell us if the building of the airport is through Private Public Participation or not. We need to know and we want to participate. We donâ€™t need compensation,â€ he said.
In his response, Ashafa reiterated the commitment of the state government to compensate the land owners, adding that the government had so far paid over N390 million as compensation over land acquisition.