The Lagos state government has embarked on a series of demolition of houses since Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu started his second term in office in May. The latest demolitions took place in October, in Lekki and Okota. The reason given was that the houses were built on waterways.
There have also been demolitions of structures in Alaba Market, Abule Egba, Ladipo Market and Ajao Estate. But perhaps the most devastating and least justifiable demolitions for poor working people occurred in Oworonshoki, in the Kosofe LGA, where the state government pulled down about 1,000 houses and evicted over 10,000 people in July and August.
The main aim of the Oworonshoki evictions was to grab lands from the poor and redistribute it among the ruling class and their cronies through private developers. The Socialist Workers league (SWL) condemned the action and joined the spate of protests by Oworonshoki youth, driven by African Action Congress activists. The right to shelter is a fundamental human right, which must be respected.
Poor people in Lagos are struggling with hunger, poverty, and high living costs, yet the government is increasing the number of people on the streets. And it has been doing this since the demolition of Maroko on Victoria Island in 1990. The military government at the time handed over that land to the super-rich. This is oppression. There has been no difference between military and civilian governments in this regard. Either in khaki or agbada, the exploiter class of capitalists always take from poor working-class people to benefit the class of a handful of billionaires and multimillionaires.
The state government does not spare informal workplaces. In recent years, the Federation of Informal Workers’ Organizations (FIWON) has had to protest the demolition of mechanics villages through demonstrations.
Capitalists in power will always put the interests of the rich first. They will oppress and repress the poor to do this, including taking away our homes and where we make our livelihoods if they can. Working-class people and youth must resist.
SWL stands in solidarity with all the victims and working-class people of Oworonshoki, and all other working-class neighbourhoods. And we will continue to stand with these communities until justice prevails. We also urge the unification of the resistance against demolitions. FIWON and community-based organisations in the affected areas will be central to the emergence of such a united front. In unity and struggle lies our power to stop these demolitions.
by Jhamo Towolawi
This is a follow-up article to “mass demolitions of homes in Oworonshoki: Lagos government makes 10,000 homeless.”