Friday, December 16, 2005

In Abuja, planning outweighs people's right to a home

The administrator of the Nigerian Capital is presiding over destruction of thousands of homes in oder to return the planned city to its original purity, according to this Reuters dispatch in the Khaleej Times. "Disorder was creeping into the development of Abuja and it was becoming chaotic," Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, minister for the Federal Capital Territory, told the news agency. "You cannot develop land in Abuja, you cannot even plant a flower on land in the FCT without a development permit from the federal capital development authority. That's the law."

But residents don't buy el-Rufai's argument that the city plan demands demolition. "This place was our collective effort," said Ibrahim Haruna as he looked out on the rubble that used to be his community. "We didn't get any help from the government but we built our own community. What have we done to deserve this."

As is often the case, the communities that bit the dust were not shantytowns and the residents of the demolished neighborhoods were squatters only in a technical sense. They had purchased their parcels and built homes with brick and concrete. But they never had planning approval, so, in that way, they are unauthorized residents.

And in Lagos, police descended at 4 am to evict thousands of tenants from their apartments because the government plans to privatize the buildings.


Anonymous said...

Before copying and pasting, you need to do some homework.
A lot of the buildings being demolished were constructed on government lands allocated for future road expansion, commuter rails, and parks. No building permits were approved, lands were not purchased in the first place. In western societies that would be considered a crime. I would hope you will really consider doing research before copying and pasting anything you see online or read.
Thank you

rn said...

You have understood me well, but not well enough.

I am very explicitly advocating that people should not be summarily evicted even if they occupied land with a title and built without a permit.

A city plan, as important as it may be, should never outweigh people's needs.

If people moved to Abuja and were allowed to build illegally on land they didn't own, there was a reason for it. The city attracted them, the city made use of them (cheap labor, etc.) So now the city wants to render them homeless with no responsibility?

If the government now chooses to enforce the sacrosanct urban plan, it should work with these squatters to figure out where they can go. They are citizens. If the government acts otherwise it is doing a disservice to its people.