A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Lagos State, Barrister Nkechi Chukwueke, has denied speculations that the demolition of the popular Owonifari market in Oshodi area of the state was targeted at the Igbo traders.
The bulldozers of the Lagos State Government and other earth moving equipment last Wednesday morning reduced the once popular market to a heap of rubbles, with the government explaining that the move was part of plans to transform Oshodi into an area befitting of Lagos as a mega-city.
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But some of the affected traders, who said they were not given adequate notice to evacuate their goods worth millions, rubbished the claim, insisting it was targeted at traders of south-eastern origin.
But Chukwueke, who served as Special Assistant on Women Ethnic Group Mobilisation/Empowerment to former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, showered encomiums on the Lagos State Government for taking the bold step.
According to her, other ethnic groups, not only Igbo traders, were affected in the demolition exercise, which she said “was carried out in good fate and in accordance with the rule of law”.
She further urged the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to focus on his task of ensuring a crime-free Lagos that will be conducive for all and sundry.
“I have told a lot of my people from the East that the exercise was carried out in good fate by the State Government to rid Lagos of crime, restore sanity to the area and ensure the master plan of Lagos State is not tampered with.
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“From facts available, the State Government gave enough notice to these traders and even provided alternative market for them to relocate to but many of them refused to go because they believe they won’t make much sales if they go to the new place.
“The truth is, we must rally round the Governor to ensure that Lagos works. The Governor means well for Lagos and he stands to gain nothing by demolishing people’s shops. There are laws of the land and it must be obeyed by all for the state to progress”, she said.
Speaking in the same vein, Chairman of Conference 57, the umbrella body of Executive Secretaries of Local Government and Local Council Development Areas in Lagos State, Hon. Alabi Kolade David, faulted those castigating Governor Ambode over the demolition, insisting that the action was a positive step geared towards development and progress.
David said those calling Ambode names over the development were exhibiting ignorance and lack of foresight, as same was in line with the transformation plan of government for Oshodi.
The Conference 57 boss, who described Oshodi as an international gateway to Lagos and indeed Nigeria, said the demolition was a positive step towards transforming the state into mega city, compared to other cosmopolitan city-states of the world.
“What the Governor has done is a wonderful thing as it will ease off a lot of things in Oshodi. Those people that are saying negative things about the Governor are the people that do not want Lagos to transform into the megacity that we are all yearning for.
“That place is an international gateway to Nigeria. It is the face of Lagos and face of Nigeria because Lagos represents Nigeria. If we want development for Nigeria, if we want development for Lagos and if we want to be put in our rightful position, that market must be demolished”, David said.
While insisting that Lagos State has done well in providing markets for the people, David said as an LG boss, he has had course to mobilize people to apply for the numerous markets available in the State.