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Return of the bulldozers…As over 1,000 illegal structures, including POWA building, give way in Agege

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

After a temporary lull amounting to a cessation of hostilities in military parlance, the Lagos State Government last weekend resumed its offensive against shanties in the state when its bulldozers roared once again leaving in their wake several illegal structures that were reduced to rubbles.

This fresh demolition exercise which was as usual carried out under the aegis of the state Environmental and Special Offences Task Force, (Enforcement Unit), Governor’s Office, Alausa, Ikeja affected mostly illegal structures erected along railway lines around the metropolis. For instance, over 1,000 shanties in Agege Local Government Area (LGA) were demolished during the exercise.

Also, affected were structures constructed by Police Officers Wives Association (POWA), around Isokoko Police Station, Agege.

The exercise, which was said to have been on the order of Governor Babatunde Fashola, was part of the on-going efforts to rid Lagos State of shanties and illegal structures as well as enforce the state environmental laws. It was also targeted at ridding the area of miscreants who used these places as hideouts to engage in acts deemed as criminal.

The state government, it was gathered, had issued several warning notices earlier to the traders of plans to restore sanity to the area.

As early as, the team which was lead by Chairman of the Task Force, Mr. Bayo Sulaimon, a Superintendent of Police (SUPOL), commenced the demolition of all the shanties on sight amidst wailing and crying by traders who had turned the area into stalls and places of residence.

The demolition affected those structures constructed on both sides of the railway from Mangoro Bus-Stop to Isokoko Police Station, in Pen Cinema area.

It was a case of mixed feelings among the onlookers as they watched a bulldozer with number SK350 belonging to Dublin Machinery Company going through the structures like a vengeful monster. It was handled with dexterity by a white man,  simply identified as BJ, who did not betray any emotion ast the sight of those wailing individuals.

In the exercise which lasted more than three hours, a senior official who preferred anonymity, said the owners of the shanties had been informed three months ago, to remove their wares or face demolition.

“Every week, up till last Friday we informed them that all the illegal structures on both sides of the railway lines were marked for demolition. You can see that most of them had parked all their wares and it is easier for us to carry out the exercise without people complaining  that their goods were destroyed when carrying out the exercise,” the source stated.

It was gathered that prior to the task force arrival, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) authorities had told them to remove all the illegal structures but they refused.

The official stated: “Railway authorities told them several times to remove the illegal structures on both sides of the railway lines but they didn’t heed the advice and we had no option than  to wade in after the expiration of the quit notice we gave them too”.

According to the official, the demolition exercise in the area was in three phases. It started from Mangoro, then to the Elere Police Station and ended at Isokoko Police Station.

The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele had in the wake of demolition of illegal structures, called for understanding and cooperation on the part of those affected, saying that the state government’s clamp down on illegal structures and shanties are done in good faith in the overall interest of the public as well as demonstration of government’s commitment to creating a new Lagos.

He stressed that it is the desire of the Gov. Fashola’s administration is to leave no stone unturned towards the creation of a new Lagos comparable to some of the best cities around the world.

He pointed out that the task of enhancing the status of Lagos as mega city is one of the cardinal factors driving the present administration, maintaining that it would remain committed and focused to those goals very passionately and most reasonably.

Bamidele stated that, to correct the anomalies and institutional neglects occasioned by past military incursions into politics, will take some time, noting that “this is one of the core values of the state government”.

One of the traders, a woman her 40s  whose shop was affected in the exercise, lamented that although they were informed but they did not know that it would be so soon.

“We were informed that the structures were illegal but we did not know that the demolition will come so soon like this, especially on a Sunday morning when most of the traders have gone to church or resting at home,” the woman, who simply identified herself as Iya Sheri, said.

Another trader who simply identified himself as Chukwudi and sells textile materials along the rail line in Agege said: “ The demolition of our shops is very painful because the government of Babatunde Fashola did not deemed it fit to find an alternative place for us. Where do they want us to sell our wares again, knowing that we all have our families to cater for and demolishing the shops would add more to our sufferings?”

Similar demolitions have been carried out in places such as the popular Oshodi Market, Ikotun in old Alimosho council, Ojuwoye, Mushin and Abule Egba Market in Ojokoro Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Lagos Island, among others.

Meanwhile, the State Government had marked several other illegal structures erected around various markets and railway in the state for demolition.

Obat’s boss commends NIM
CHAIRMAN of Obat Petroleum, Chief Frederick Obateru Akinruntan, has commended the leadership of the Nigerian Institute of Management(NIM) for what he described as its(NIM) efforts at making good managers out of Nigerian entrepreneurs.

Akinruntan, who said this when the management of NIM payed him a courtsey visit recently in Lagos, also pledged to support the institution in every way, especially on the building of the proposed office complex in Abuja. “I am proud to be identified with you. I have gained a lot from the training I got from that institution, especially the Manchester trip.

The acceptance we had there was a testimony of the quality of your courses. I must say that you are doing good job for Nigerian entrepreneurs. And it is manifesting in the success of most members of NIM. I am ready to work with you in the little ways I can,” he stated.

Earlier the President of the Institute, Mr Peter  Edeoghon disclosed that the institute has concluded plans to train political office holders, adding that it will add value to the quality of leadership in the country.

His words: “We must thank you for receiving us and being a worthy member of this institute. We have come a long way and that is why we are here to sensitize you on the state of NIM. The kind of training you had with others, I am assuring you will soon be given to political office holders. We are starting with the senators and down to the grassroots. This is part of our determination to create a better society,” he noted.

NGO harps on capital development
A non-governmental organisation, Project Wealth Nigeria, has called on Nigerians to invest in both human and capital development in order to achieve the vision 2020. Chief Executive Officer of the organisation, Obafemi Onagoruwa who made the call in Lagos urged them to be self-reliant rather than seeking for avenues to loot public treasury.

In his words: “We shall all agree that our wealth cannot increase by the increase in production of our crude oil or other resources. It is diligent enterprise, human capacity development that can make us achieve our aspiration. We should begin to think on what we can do to make Nigeria greater and not what Nigeria should do to make us richer”.

Onagoruwa who observed that problem associating with unemployment is far gaining ground said his organisation had adopted measures to tackle this. “There have been several approaches toward poverty alleviation and skill development in a bid to reduce the rate of unemployment in our society. However, most of these efforts have sadly not achieved the desired objective. That is why we have adopted a systemic approach of entrepreneurship training, skill acquisition, business mentorship, hands on internship and network support,” he noted.

He said the project, an initiative of Infinity Royal Limited, is borne out of the passion to see Nigerians break away from the shackles of poverty through grassroot, self-reliance empowerment programmes, entrepreneurship training, business mentorship, skill-based internship networking support, among others. “The concept is basically a job creation initiative or an empowerment for wealth creation programme through an intensive coordinated approach,” he added.


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