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DoBetterDouglas: Ban, Demolish & Displace! This is How to Become a Mega City Like Lagos

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Have you heard?

Lagos is on its way to becoming to the biggest, most advanced mega city in the world. And just in time too, as it celebrates its 50th birthday! I have it on good authority that New York, Dubai, Paris, London are all shook, afraid of what’s coming.

The state government hasn’t officially declared it yet but soon, the parties will start and Owambes and white canopies will roll out. There will be none of that nonsense that you can no longer hold parties in the street. The Lagos Island Association of Lace and Brocade Sellers will be picking out the aso-ebi. Everyone is invited. But before we start celebrating, it is good to throwback to how we got here.

It is good for everyone to see the Mega City plan the government used and the methods via which they used it. Here, Douglas, is  he unofficial spokesperson for the Lagos State Government:

First, they came for the Okada Riders
This was the first to-do on the mega city plan. Okada Riders had to be banned. An important part of the mega city plan is to get people to walk more and have less machines on the road, Okadas being one of them. Instead of citizens complaining about Okadas helping them get to places faster or inside inside streets that buses cannot reach, they should walk, keep fit! Maybe next, Lagos will be called the healthiest city in the world too. And for those complaining about the other alternatives, was it not the ban of Okada that helped businesses like Uber thrive? More complaints about that being expensive? Work harder!

Then they came for the Market Women
Banned. Their stalls demolished. They’re loud, they talk too much and they take up too much space on the road. What happened to them being like the women in the shops, who sell expensive lace, who make noise behind sliding glass? We opened world-class shopping centres with world-class rent for them, yet they still want to sell on the streets? This is the only kind of market we want. With all the money street market women, make selling tomatoes (you know we all like Jollof Rice) how can they claim they can’t afford our rent?

Then they came for the Street Hawkers
Banned. After spending billions on roads, do we really want street hawkers making marks on them with their slippers? Most of them probably didn’t do well in our world-class public schools, and now ended up on streets. In any case, we have replaced them with shopping centres. All transactions must be done in an orderly, mega city manner.


Then they came for the Slum Dwellers or Rather Lagosians Who Are Occupying Expensive Waterfront Property, but their last name is not Elegushi
Displaced. Demolished. Otodo Gbame. Makoko. When the CNN, BBC, come we cannot keep showing them pictures of slum dwellers. This is why they think we are backward. Slum people are dirty. They do not look good in photos. They are not hygienic. They do not dress well. It does not speak well of a world-class city like ours that they live here. Besides the lands they occupy like Otodo Gbame, Makoko Waterfronts could be resorts, the space put to better use. Imagine what people will say about us, if we had more luxury flats, complexes, all new and shiny! They will say we are becoming a first-world city, like our counterparts. Maybe because of Lagos we will even be a first world country. The peoples whose land we took sha…If they work hard, they can even be given employment in these our new buildings. Of course, they will have to find better clothes, and wash up.

And there you have it ladies and gentlemen! That is how LAGOS became a mega city. The work is not done. There are many more things and people to be banned, demolished, displaced.

You may be next. Our city must be great.

Don’t fight it. Do Better Today!

Photo Credit: Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade

Douglas is a civil servant but this was not the plan. He convinced his parents to invest their elusive pensions in a private university education. He made sacrifices too. He tucked in every day, wore ties, ate tofu, attended church four times a week, listened to sermons probably drafted on private jets. He even graduated top of his class. At the end of it all the return was supposed to be a great job, regular salaries, workplace oppression by bosses who could actually write a sentence in proper English. But now he is a civil servant. Since the universe didn't keep to its end of its bargain, he won't either. He resumes work at the Secretariat at 11AM, on excellent days. Closes 3.30PM sharp. In between watching Africa Magic And gossiping with Folake in the next office, he writes things like this. You may also find him causing trouble on Twitter at: Tweets by dobetterdouglas

15 Comments

  1. Madman

    April 19, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Ambode is a wicked DEVIL.

  2. Madman

    April 19, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    ELRUFAI is Satan.

  3. NG

    April 19, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Same story all over the world- socialists/capitalists, all are the same. The poor, the helpless, are necessary casualties, expendable ‘items’ in all developments all through the ages. The world is not fair, that is for sure.
    Tomorrow though, we will all boast and take pleasure in whatever sprouts up in their stead. That is the reality of the human existence.

  4. Memoir

    April 19, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Unfortunately, it is the same across the world even in developed nations. Oyibo calls it gentrification. Na the world wey we live in .

  5. funmilola

    April 19, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    I arrived Lagos on Good Friday and saw the posters of Lagos at 50 everywhere with the faces of celebrities…..the only thing that came to my mind was wastage.
    Lagos government likes “feferity” too much.

  6. Dt

    April 19, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Hi Douglas, love your sarcasm.
    As for Ambode, who doesnt know that if you displace people from so called slum, you have to ressetle them. He should take a cue from the Calais refugee camp – they would come back.

  7. Observer

    April 19, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    I actually do have a problem with this piece in many respects. Whilst it is quite honorable to speak for the poor and also for the helpless, at least let’s get some things right. The accident rate on Lagos roads have dropped since the ban of Okada Riders (I was quite upset when they were banned), They are still allowed to ply their trades except in specific areas. I recall when I recklessly took a bike from Ajah to Ikeja through third mainland bridge on a harmattan night. I couldn’t keep my eyes open and neither could the Rider because of the heavy winds. It is a very risky form of transport by quite inexperienced and unlicensed transporters on major roads.

    If you are complaining of Oshodi Market demolition, then I might suspect you actually been to those areas. I totally supported the restriction on road trading in that area. It bred thieves and all sorts of tension. This is not to say people didn’t lose their livelihood and it is the government’s job to protect people, but turning the other way does not also help the situation.

    I am a proponent of the position that Street Hawkers are created by poverty but the solution is not in permitting them but creating a better society so that no one will need to hawk.

    As for the communities that were ‘chased’ out of their homes. The two places that this event took place are behind and in front of my House so I watched it all develop right before my eyes. On Saturday I watched as the caterpillars came for the occupants of Kunsela Road for the second time in sadness. However, the narrative of being displaced from their land is not true. Unlike Maroko people who actually got relocated to New Moba Town, the dwellers on Kunsela Road encroach on someone’s land, This land is fenced and gated long before any of them moved in there, In fact, I knew when most of them moved in there. What do you want the owner of the property to do? I sympathize with them ad unlike you I have supported the few people I know who live there like my dry cleaner and house cleaner. But I cannot also say it is ok for them to settle on someone’s property perpetually.

    And contrary to popular information, notice was delivered to the dwellers several times.

    I admit the state has failed the people, we should be demanding more from our States and asking for better living conditions not seeking to maintain a status quo that helps nobody.

    Ps. I loved the sarcasm in the article 🙂

  8. Blackbeauty

    April 19, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Sad but true. I saw a woman in traffic today breastfeeding and begging. Thank baby could not have been more than one month old and wasn’t properly covered.
    I could give her sth to cater for the next meal but what of tomorrow, and there are a thousand others like her.
    We need a sustainable plan, the government needs to do more for the less fortunate ones. Individuals can only do so much.

    • nnenne

      April 19, 2017 at 11:14 pm

      @Balckbeauty…..Agreed but first we must establish a reliable standard of identifying a Nigerian otherwise we be embarking a futile journey! Unless we have enough resources for all of sub
      saharan Africa.
      I don’t think the bank BNVs tell much, BTW.

  9. Yellow sun

    April 19, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Nigerians thrive on sentiments too much…wetin sef!..bfr you come at me..my mums shop was demolished during fasholas era…I do not agree with ambode not helping the otodo gbame displaced persons…
    But it is this same complaints we had when fashola changed Oshodi…
    Pls where in the world are there no homeless people or beggars …why are you all acting like its a Lagos/Nigeria phenomenon… Our govt should pls be more empathic to our people…but when change is happening for Good let us move with the tide…not sob stories…like we should remain stagnant

    • Lalaland

      April 19, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      Thank you! I think that despite the initial difficulties, Lagos is way better and more safe than many other cities in Nigeria. Many times I wish that many of the laws enforced in Lagos be enforced in states like Rivers. These are long term plans. Maybe you are not seeing the bright side now but you will when you leave Lagos to live in ‘backward’ cities.

    • Reverse

      April 20, 2017 at 9:26 am

      If you see the displacement of indigenous people as a positive, then we truly deserve the leaders we get! You people are always first to jump and shout how western countries bla bla bla, do they also shoot people when the courts give an order halting actions? Do they shoot people for refusing to move? Do they kill citizens because they want to develop their city? Do they not build low cost housing? How many low cost houses has Ambode built? How many did Tinubu and Fashola combined build? Why did they not relocate them to dash land to the Elegushis. It’s all the big estates that most can’t afford that keep sprouting up everyday!

      Keep supporting them and speaking English. You make excuses for a governnment that caters onky to the elite. No worries though, this is Nigeria, there’s enough brutality to go round!

  10. weezy

    April 19, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    Douglas, I think you schooled outside Nigeria in the West? At least the reference to tofu in one of your bios makes me think so. So you enjoyed clean, paved roads, nice-looking scenery, reasonable crime levels, and the absence of severe poverty (unless you were raised in the deep inner city, which I highly doubt based on choice of profession). Basically you enjoyed a nice western style, middle-class lifestyle.

    So why should Lagosians not have something similar? If the government decides that functional airconditioned buses are better for the city than okada, is that not a good thing?

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not okay with demolishing the homes and businesses of Nigerians without restitution and relocation. The governments methods are deplorable. But I think the ultimate goal is laudable. Why should Lagos and by extension Nigeria not achieve new standards of orderliness and functionality? And when Lagos improves cosmetically, will you not be one of those people who are boasting about how Lagos is just as good as any city now, if not better?

    My issue with your piece is that you are satirizing BOTH the end goal and the methods.

  11. Loulou

    April 20, 2017 at 1:32 am

    DoBetterDouglas, where have you been all my life??

    Call me, I need to speak with you.

  12. Ndi

    April 20, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    My mum lives at Mile 2. I went to visit her last week, and saw that the Lagos state govt. had demolished all the illegal shops that had sprouted over the years.
    It was a bit ok to demolish the shops (my mum’s shop was demolished too ) but it was quite mean of them to leave huge mounds of broken heaps all over the place.
    With the demolition pre planned, why was there no plan to clean up the place? Piles of wood stone and junk all over the place. It was a smelly, horrible mess and acomplete eye sore.
    They could even have used the abundant bricks for new buildings, or as land fills in sensitive areas. Instead it’s all over the place.
    Now that the rains are starting, I really dread going back there. And I don’t have money yet to move her.

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