Prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Sunday, slammed the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu over obnoxious regulations and suffocating multiple taxations which are further plunging the over 20 million residents of the state into depressing poverty.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, also flayed the failure of the Sanwo-Olu’s administration to curb perennial building collapses and flooding in the state since he assumed office, the worst being in the month of September which has recorded over six building collapses on a roll.
The group said instead of addressing the flooding ravaging the state, the frequent building collapses killing scores almost on a regular basis, the gridlock plaguing the city due to dilapidated roads and unavailable infrastructure networks, the issue of refuse disposal and lack of proper drainage channels, the governor has since 2019 introduced one draconian law and taxes or the order, insensitive to the plight of the masses.
HURIWA recalled that in September 2022 alone, Lagos recorded over six building collapses, with scores killed and many injured, a disaster that is avoidable if the state government focuses on its constitutional job and enforce building control standards.
For instance, in September, in the Amukoko area of Lagos, the fence of a school, Covenant Point Academy, collapsed on pupils. A seven-storey building caved in in the Victoria Island area. Flood sank a house in Mende, Maryland. A house collapsed at Oye Sonuga Street, in Mushin. Sadly, scores of persons lost their lives while many others were injured in all of these recent tragic incidents.
Earlier in August, a building collapsed in the Bariga area of Lagos. Similarly, eight bodies were recovered after a three-storey building collapsed in Ebute-Metta in May. Another building in the Ago Palace Way area also collapsed.
Building collapses have been at its highest in Lagos since last November when a high-rise building crumbled in the Ikoyi area of the state, killing at least 44 people and injuring many others. The figure is aside from those who have been swept away by flooding in Lagos since the incumbent governor assumed office in May 2019.
“Away from building collapses and disasters resulting from flooding, the state government in September confiscated over 130 vehicles for alleged traffic offences and auctioned off the vehicles even as the owners shed tears and begged the government for leniency. However, the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu didn’t budge but took away their means of livelihood when the government can prescribe a fine or a less draconian penalty based on the prerogative of mercy. If this is not an anti-people government, then what is it?” HURIWA’s Onwubiko queried.
“As if not enough, the administration of Governor Sanwo-Olu also created the Lagos State Parking Authority to collect parking levy in respect of parking spaces in state. In fact, business owners and residents are compelled to pay hundreds of thousands annually for parking spaces in front of their premises. What could be more exploitative than this?
“Could it be that the desperation to source fund for the campaign of All Progressives Congress’ presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor, is driving the incumbent governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to over-tax the people of the state through official non-democratic exploitation?
“HURIWA is alarmed that under Governor Sanwo-Olu, Lagos is becoming the North Korea of Nigeria with many obnoxious regulations like primitive penalties for traffic offences, the plot to tax for watching television and listening to radio, car parking fees for residents even when city planning and sanitation is poor causing perennial floods, collapses of houses and even empowering motor park touts to undermine properly constituted transport unions just for political agenda.
“According to the National Bureau of Statistics Lagos has the highest Internally Generated Revenue in Nigeria with N267.23bn in H1 2021. However, rather than use the excessive cash flow to benefit the people who should enjoy their own taxes, the Sanwo-Olu government keeps introducing suffocating taxes and thereby pushing Lagosians into poverty whilst few families controlling the political power structures are doing all the contracts and consultancy services, milking Lagos dry.
“The state government should retrace its diabolical and anti-people’s steps earnestly and stop its wicked policy of impoverishment of commoners from all angles. Democracy is about developmental governance and not milking the people dry.”
September 25, 2022
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA.