Presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 presidential election, Peter Obi, has appealed to governments at all levels to be considerate as they continue the demolitions of structures that are deemed to have flouted certain construction rules.
In a series of tweets via his verified Twitter handle @PeterObi on Tuesday, the former Anambra State Governor says:
Recently, there have been reports of widespread government demolition of so-called ‘illegal’ structures erected by some innocent Nigerian citizens in error.
We face a paradox: with a 70 million housing deficit and vast unmet housing needs nationwide, some resort to self-help of building structures that serve as homes, businesses, SMEs offices and stores.
Invariably, some of these structures were either not approved or were built with the tacit collusion or approval of the local authorities.
While some of these ongoing demolitions may be excusable, they have, nonetheless, left many victims, mostly ordinary people who erred innocently or were ill-informed or misguided.
Necessary corrective measures to planning or zoning violations by governments need not be punitive or unduly insensitive.
There should always be room for compassion and humane correction in taking any remedial action.
I respectfully appeal to various governmental authorities to marry the need to enforce compliance with extant regulatory regimes, with consideration for human feelings and necessary compassion.
In Nigeria, we live in a time of extreme difficulties for citizens because of stagnated income, spiraling inflation, huge unemployment, escalating socio-economic costs and high costs of living.
Nigerian citizens should, therefore, not be subjected to the additional stress of unexpected hardship.
Moreover, the various concerned governments should consider paying compensation to those who have lost properties and livelihood in these unfortunate demolitions to ameliorate their suffering.
Such compensation should fall under the rubric of eminent domain that is applicable for properties and assets acquired or demolished in the public interest.
It cannot ever be overemphasized that the primary duty of any government is the responsibility to care for and protect her citizens.