Lagos may lose its mega-city status if the attack on businesses and buildings stampedes population out of the state, the state’s chapter of the Democratic Peoples’ Alliance (DPA) has warned.
DPA pointed out that the state had lately rolled out several disincentives threatening its large population, including: High tenements, high rents, cut-throat transport fares, duplicated and double taxation and excruciating land charges –forcing developers on cost-cutting and bureaucracy-evading compromises which have resulted in collapsed buildings and avoidable deaths.
“Officials appear to be losing sight of the fact that the mega-city status is a function of large populations, not beautiful flowers and pavements,” Lagos DPA said in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina. “What we are saying is that Lagos has lost sight of the human factor. Infrastructures and orderliness are important, but development ought to be people-centred.”
The party said displaced Lagosians had drifted to neighbouring Ogun State in search of friendlier habitation and business regulations.
According to DPA, the world reserved the mega-city status for places containing populations of between 9 and 10 million. Although the last census placed it at 9 million, Lagos State claims a population of over 15 million.
According to the party, Lagos needed to pay attention to the possibility of a thinning population, especially as stringent building and business regulations threatened to worsen its poverty profile. Statistics show that while the country had succeeded in reducing poverty in the last eight years, Lagos conversely recorded an increase with two-thirds of the population earning less than N4,000 monthly and 64 percent residents categorised as poor.
The party considered it wrong that Lagos administrators attempted to clone the state in the image of Abuja.
In the words of DPA: “The Action Congress wants to duplicate in Lagos what Mallam Nasir El-Rufai did in Abuja. But they should know that no international classification is placing Abuja as a mega-city despite its beautiful structures and perfect layout. It just lacks the population of a mega-city.”
According to DPA, AC chieftains had clearly misconstrued the concept of the mega-city.
“They are interpreting it in terms of infrastructure and beautification. But it really has to do with the population. Once an area attains a population of 9 to 10 million it gets the rating of a mega-city. It has nothing to do with beautiful environment. It is a market rating. But with the way businesses are being closed down, with the way residences are being demolished, with the unbridled and indiscriminate demolition of shops and markets, Lagos may witness a population flight that will wipe away its mega-city status.”
Citing an example of business-unfriendly regulations, the party pointed out that the Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA) had launched a pernicious war against small businesses, through mass confiscating of wooden chalkboards advertising small shops, phone calls and menial job vacancies.
“Today, we witness a frightening expansion of LASAA’s war which it initiated against big business by destroying billboards. This display of unbridled impunity has degenerated into a full-scale war against blackboards used by petty traders to announce products and services,” DPA lamented.
Director of Publicity, Lagos DPA