Peter Obi

Prioritise Compassion in Building Demolitions, Obi Begs Govs

The presidential candidate of Labour Party in the 2023 general election, Peter Obi, has pleaded with state governments to show empathy in the demolition of buildings and other structures across the country.

The PUNCH reports that the Kano and Lagos states’ governments, as well as some others, recently demolished some properties for allegedly violating regulatory requirements.

The demolitions have generated outcries from a section of Nigerians who saw the demolitions as vindictive.

And reacting on Tuesday, in a post on LinkedIn, with respect to the government’s demolition of so-called ‘illegal’ structures, Obi appealed to the authorities to strike a balance between upholding regulatory requirements and displaying empathy for individuals’ emotions and well-being.

He highlighted the concerning trend of the government demolishing structures labelled ‘illegal’ that were unintentionally constructed by innocent Nigerian citizens.

He said, “We face a paradox: with a 70 million housing deficit and vast unmet housing needs nationwide, some resort to the 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.”

He explained that it is important to recognise that addressing planning or zoning violations by governments does not necessarily require punitive or overly harsh measures.

According to him, there should always be space for compassion and considerate corrective actions when taking remedial steps.

He, therefore, urged the government to take proactive measures to strike a balance when dealing with such issues.

He said, “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, spiralling 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.”

He further explained that the respective governments involved should contemplate providing compensation to individuals who have suffered property loss and financial hardships as a result of these regrettable demolitions.

He stressed that the compensation should be viewed within the framework of eminent domain, which applies to properties and assets acquired or demolished in the public interest and aims to alleviate their distress.

“It cannot ever be overemphasized that the primary duty of any government is the responsibility to care for and protect her citizens,” he added.