Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lagos community protests abandonment of World Bank project

WorldStage Newsonline-- Residents of Badia community in Ijora, Lagos have staged a protest to Lagos State House of Assembly overthe abandonment of Lagos Metropolitan Development Governance Projects (LMDGP), a World Bank assisted project aimed at developing shanties and slums within the state, in their domain.

Led by their representative in the House, Muyiwa Jimoh and Prince Kayode Obadiah, a community leader, the protesters displayed various placards with captions such as 'LMDGP, tell us why you want to sack the contractor?' No roads for PSP vehicles,' 'Apapa Iganmu: LMDGP, your system five is a failure,' 'Our houses have been demolished, please help us,' 'Gov. Fashola, we thank you for using good contractor for your roads' among others.
 (LMDGP had embarked on construction of roads, sinking of boreholes, ultra-modern schools, complex and canal constructions which the protesters claim had been abandoned in the area.

In a letter addressed to the state governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola and copied to the Assembly, signed by leaders of the community, it was alleged that LMDGP had taken over the project from the contractor (Seg.Mahen Co. Nig.Ltd). The residents wondered why the project was not re-awarded to another contractor.
"We are writing this letter to our Dear Excellency sir, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), the governor of Lagos state and the contractor Director, Mr. Dayo Oguntunde representing World Bank in Lagos State to please save our souls.

"The World Bank has visited this community before our communities were enlisted among the areas to be assisted and we are part of Lagos," the statement read.
Some of the projects already abandoned included Canal (System V), which according to the letter was supposed to  serve as alternative to the drainage had stopped since 2011 resulting into serious havoc affecting the whole community.
While championing the cause of his constituency during the protest, Jimoh hinted that "the LMDGP has terminated the project as we speak and has not re-awarded it." He therefore appealed to the state government to urgently intervene to save his constituents from impending danger.
In his response, the chairman, House committee on Information, Strategy, Security and Publicity, Segun Olulade, who represented the speaker, praised the protesters for conducting themselves in a peaceful manner, adding that his colleague Jimoh had been proactive in his determination to making sure that the issue is amicably resolved.
"As a member of committee on Works,  I know the role he has been playing in ensuring that the matter is seriously looked into. I want to assure you that the House would surely look into it with immediate effect," Olulade promised.
Adding that the delay in completing the projects maybe due to the process of re-awarding the contract because the earlier contract has since been terminated because of misunderstanding between LMDGP and the contractor.

Who builds for the poor?

In Marslow’s hierarchy of human needs, shelter ranks second to food, which pre-supposes that without food, shelter is the most important of all man’s needs on earth. Similarly, the National Housing Policy (NHP) of 1991 states that every Nigerian has a right to a decent and affordable accommodation.
However, the housing situation in Nigeria today, where the demand-supply gap is as wide as 16 million units with only 10 percent homeownership, obviously belies both Marslow and the NHP.
A critical look at this deficit shows that it tilts stubbornly towards housing for the poor who can hardly afford the millions-of-naira property that the market offers. In a mortgage-free environment like ours, where homeownership is by cash and carry and there is no social housing arrangement by the government, the poor are mere spectators, begging the question as to who builds for them.

We are worried that whereas the government tells whoever cares to listen that its responsibility in housing delivery is creating the enabling environment, private sector operators in the housing sector have concentrated efforts at building for the rich and the wealthy, leaving the poor to their fate.

A one-time commissioner for housing in Lagos State told journalists at a groundbreaking ceremony that government cannot build low-cost housing because it also goes to the same market where building materials are costly, adding that they are also in business to make profit. But a developer who spoke to BusinessDay said low-income housing is the business of government, explaining that lack of infrastructure and cost of building make that segment of the market unattractive.

The developer said that his company, without any apology, develops and delivers housing to the mid-upper end of the property market, arguing that he would do mass housing only on the condition that he would get land free of charge, or at least it must be given to him at a huge concession. “Also, I must get title for the land just by asking, that is, once I apply, I am given. Even at that, it must be given to me almost free of charge or at a huge concession,” he added.
From these standpoints, we can appreciate the dilemma of the poor in relation to homeownership and, for us, it is a very pathetic, though not helpless, situation.

 Much as we believe in free enterprise and that the business of housing delivery is better managed by the private sector, we do not subscribe to a total abdication of the sector by the government because housing has a lot to do with policy issues. Apart from favourable regulatory issues around land matters, government should also be sincere and responsible enough to provide enabling environment for private-sector operators to come in and deliver affordable housing.

We align with the president of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) who has consistently canvassed some form of social housing for the very poor in society whose income cannot support homeownership. According to him, even though the housing sector is better driven by the private sector, government still has to enable equitable distribution of housing to ensure that everybody is properly housed, adding, “In India, for instance, there is the Council Flats with all manner of social housing components.”

We recall that when the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) was set up, part of its mandate was to develop rent-to-own and social housing for the class of Nigerians who needs them. Today, the authority has gone commercial, building houses where two-bedroom and three-bedroom flats go for N6 million and N9 million, respectively.
Because of its huge impact on productivity and economic growth, we are of the opinion that all stakeholders should explore possible ways of making housing accessible and affordable to the poor

Drama Consult premieres today in Lagos

DRAMA Consult, the film by German filmmaker, curator and international programmer, Dorothee Wenner, will be premiered today at the new leisure mall on Adeniran Ogunsanya Street (by Shoprite), Surulere, Lagos. Time is 7pm.

  The film celebrates an ethnographic expedition from Africa to Europe between real life businessmen who travel to meet with potential partners in Germany. Already, it has successfully been premiered at two big festivals — The Festival of Pan African Cinema in Ouagadougou, otherwise called FESPACO and the ongoing 34th Durban International Film Festival in South Africa.

  The film was shot in Lagos and Germany and it features business personalities and experts like Dolapo Ajayi, Sam Aniama, Jude Fejokwu,

Femi Ladipo, Biyi Tunji-Olugbodi, Alhaji Chief Musa Olukayode Adedipe Christian Wessels, and Dazaa Aniama. In the film, the businessmen from Lagos — a spare parts dealer, a real estate developer and a young shoe manufacturer with high-flying plans, accompanied by two smart business consultants, travel to Germany to link up with potential partners and investors.

  The film tracks the process of economic intervention as an adventure trip in the era of globalization. Wenner, who wrote and directed the film, is already in Nigeria ahead of the premiere. Wenner disclosed after the premiere in Durban that she had always wanted to do a film about Africa and Europe and she found Nigeria, which she has visited every year in the last 10 years because of her involvement with the Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA), a good centre to focus the story.

  She noted, “There are a lot of prejudices about this great country, Nigeria and a lot of misconceptions and I felt that beyond giving the businessmen who are my protagonists the opportunity to explore business opportunities, efforts could be made to correct those other stereotypes like when people say, ‘Nigerian businessmen cannot be trusted.’ But here we see people who are ready to do genuine business and so on”.
  Drama Consult is Wenner’s second film. She produced and directed Peace Mission, a film that provided valuable insight into the Nigerian motion picture phenomenon.