…It‘ll worsen poverty, housing deficit in Lagos—ULC
By Abdulwahab Abdulah, Ebun Sessou, Bartholomew Madukwe & Jane Echewedo
lagos—THE opposition against the new Land Use Charge, LUC introduced by the Lagos State government, yesterday took a new dimension, as a pro-labour civil society coalition, Joint Action Front, JAF, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Ikeja branch and Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, CDHR, yesterday stormed the streets to protest against the new law.
This came as United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, said LUC would create housing deficit and further impoverish the people.
President of ULC, Mr Joe Ajaero, called for the immediate withdrawal of the Act, contending that “It is on record that Nigeria suffers housing deficit and Lagos as one of the most urbanised states, has a high deficit.
”The implication of this is that the supply of housing is short and creates a landlord’s market where the masses have little option in the face of landlords’ decisions.”
He said the Act, which raised land use charges payable in the state to between 400 and 500 per cent was unacceptable, adding that it would have been appropriate for the state government to address the housing deficit before such law was enacted.
Meanwhile, the protest which started from Ikeja roundabout along Obafemi Awolowo Way and terminated at the State House of Assembly was led by Dr. Oladipo Fashola and Chairman of the Ikeja, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana, who presented letters of demands to the state government.
Addressing the protesters, at commencement of the protest, Mr Ogunlana described the new rates as anti-people, urging Lagosians to be peaceful and focus on the objective of the protest, which he said “is a clear No to oppressive tax regime.”
The protesters, who displayed various placards to register their grievances, were joined by a team from CDHR, as they moved to Alausa seat of government, chanting anti-government slogans.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards included: “Stop killing justice in Lagos,” “No to hike in Land Use Charge, LUC,” “The country is hard enough, don’t add to it,” “Developing Lagos to megacity and killing Lagosians with pharaoric taxes,” “No to taxes without consultation,” “Lagosians commit suicide daily, stop this hardship” among others.
While speaking at Alausa, chairman of JAF, Dr. Oladipo Fashola noted among others that “From our preliminary study of the obnoxious land use charges, we observed that the working people and the poor masses of traders, women and artisans would be the greatest victims of the wicked policy. If the policy is not resisted and defeated, it will manifest in indiscriminate increases by Shylock landlords, and there will be attendant consequences in inflation in the prices of food, goods and services.
Similarly, Ogunlana said “Our purpose is to communicate our grievances to the Lagos State Government vis-à-vis the new direction by the Governor. We have a letter for the Governor. We have anticipated the Lagos Assembly will be more accessible than the office of the Governor.”
Addressing the protesters on behalf of the Speaker of the House, Mr. Mudashiru Obasa, the Majority Leader, Mr. Sanai Agunbiade, commended the protesters for being peaceful, saying: “It is your right to protest because peaceful protest is legitimate all over the world.
The Clerk of the House, Mr. Azeez Sanni would receive the protest letter and give it to the Speaker, while the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Kehinde Bamgbetan, would receive that of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.”