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Oshodi Market Demolition: Who’s to blame?

My dad once told me; to make the world a better place some actions need to be taken on the citizenry that will benefit them immensely in the future no matter whose ox is gored. Can I say the same about the recent demolition of the Owonifari section of Oshodi market? This article aims to shed some light on this issue.

I try to weigh both sides of the coin thrown into the war of words between the Lagos state government and the displaced Oshodi market traders rather than trade blames.

Whenever there is a demolition in Oshodi Market, according to the immediate past administration, it is always carried out in good faith to rid Lagos of crime; restore sanity to the area and ensure the master plan of the state is not tampered with. That has always being the case and the recent action on traders and there goods in the Owonifari market section of Oshodi is no different.

So, when the Ambode led government demolished shops in Oshodi market it was perceived by some Lagosians especially APC adherents as another step in the right direction.

There have being claims that the Lagos state government gave enough notice to the traders and even offered them an alternative, but the traders defied orders. However, as it is with situations of this magnitude and type, there will always be two sides to the story. As expected, different accounts of the incident sprang.

Regardless of the fact that the government may have meant well when they rolled out their bulldozers and leveled Owonifari Market to the ground and even beyond, there should really be adequate compensation for the aggrieved traders.

Even though the government may have genuine reasons for the demolition, concrete plans should have being put in place before they went on a demolition spree. In a situation where traders rejected the alternative market they were relocated to, then all is not well.

The demolished market was gutted by fire in 1999 and there are claims that the displaced traders voluntarily re-built the market with a whooping sum of 750 million naira without any effort from the government which makes the situation pathetic.

But what seems to be more disheartening is the traders barely had time to salvage their goods and while there was little hope to retrieve the rest of their properties from the rubble, there came scavengers, then a fire. It was a situation that left many helpless. Again, that is one side of the story.

If the security breaches, criminal activities and incessant gridlock that has characterized Oshodi and environs for recent years is anything to go by, then the government may just be on course with their restructuring plans; that’s not in doubt. However they should show a heightened level of sensitivity towards the plight of the affected Lagosians seeking a means of livelihood in stalls and shops at the now defunct Owonifari market. Refusing to do so will only make a move to safeguard lives and properties to be perceived as a wicked act.

The Lagos State government claims their action is not with the intent to make life unbearable and difficult for anyone, however the odds are not in their favour.  We hope to see what the government makes out of this demolition because if the situation is not managed properly there will be more problems created and little or no problem solved.

If there truly have being back and forth engagements between the market leadership and representatives of the government for 10 years (according to claims) on issues bordering the discontinuance of the market and its activities then would it be right to say government was not justified with the action they took after so long a time? After all, from all indications they offered them an alternative. Whether they liked the alternative offered them or not should be the topic of debate?

In all of these, it is best we take a critical look at the actions the Lagos State government took and weigh both sides of the coin.

Should there have being a better way to manage the situation? Please share your thought on the demolition that rocked Oshodi market?

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