Demolition: The Dynamics of a Failed State
By Victor Oroyi
Robert Rotberg described the concept of a failed state as one that is unable to perform its duties on several levels when violence cascades into an all-out internal war, when standard of living massively deteriorate, when infrastructure of ordinary life decays, and when the greed of rulers overwhelms their responsibilities to better their people and their surroundings.
A deep thought on Robert Rotberg’s quote and its reality will direct every sensible thinker on the reasons for the increase of criminalities, illegal structures in the form of living abode and trading post and political violence. For once, there is need to address the underlining or contributory factors for such lawlessness in our quest for an aesthetically attractive environment.
Must the people go hungry? Should they be homeless? Should access to quality education for them and their children come with a high price? Should portable drinking be expensive? Should power supply be included in a luxury list? These are pyramid of questions begging for answers for those in the corridors of power and their messengers.
The cost of living is daily on the increase while the purchase power is in declining race therefore people must find means to fill in the gap. Sincerely, I am against any form of criminality and advocate against but we are not of same moral standing, that is where government comes in.
While one is not against government policies and programmes, such policies must first been seen to be addressing the pains and agony of the people not for self-seeking government officials. First, there should be proper evaluation in the balance before implementation. Secondly, if the pains outweigh the greater good than government should have a second thought on the prospects of the policy.
Beforehand, where is the film village in Yenagoa, where the government made a public presentation of a cheque in millions? Where are the products of the fish farm located in Igbogene-Epie? Is government more concern with its officials than the led?
Government is instituted to protect the people for the equitable distribution of wealth. Sadly, we have seen those in government more wealthier than the led, daily impoverished by myopic and poorly implemented government regulations and policy. The widening gap of the poverty index in Nigeria is never a worry for the occupants of the top government offices and the various demolition in some part of the country is a clear evidence.
Suffice to say that the erection of illegal structures is a product of compromised legal processes as a resilient people finds means of survival faced with an unfriendly government policy in a mixed gridlock of corruption. In terms of housing, there are countless homeless people living in shanties even in the rural communities not to talk about city centers but there ready homes with exorbitant prices. When will government embark on low-cost housing scheme for those at the bottom of the ladder?
Illegal structures as trading post, an average Nigerian is not interested with handouts from government hence their their daily pursue of income. Truly, what these group needs is an enabling environment to carry out their transaction free from harrassement from any quarters, how long can they wait?
Recently, the government of Bayelsa State gave a matching order for traders not to use the road for trading, Opolo market is located in the heart of Yenagoa city, the traders complied apart from the usual market day – Friday. Every Friday is tagged Opolo market day; there is an influx of more traders and buyers across the state on this day that results to the gridlock on the major road. Therefore can be excused, if only the state government has constructed a good network of roads for alternative use on this day, the situation won’t pose much of a challenge.
While we see the demolition exercise at the popular Tombia roundabout with a eight-month notice given to traders, it calls for serious concerns. This is not the first time such demolition is taking place, is the government blind when the trading post were springing up not for the second time?
Painfully, the cost of renting a stall built by government is beyond the reach of these petty traders and most times allocation is made to top government officials who sublet them out. It is sheer hypocrisy to call for the demolition of people’s livelihood who are at lowest rung of the leader with the guise of curbing criminality in the area while we have the biggest criminals flying over our heads.
Some argue that the government wants to construct a flyover in the area, beautiful and commendable idea. However, is this the first time, we are hearing such cheering news or rumours? Based on our procurement laws, has government called for the bids for the job? Who are the contracts that tend their bids? Has government awarded the contract?
What happened to the Ring road from Igbogene-Epie? What happened to Bayelsa Palms? What happened to film village? What happened to our gas turbine? What happened to BDIC and BIPA? What happened to Bayelsa Oil Company? We are waiting for answers.
Closing the gap of our poverty gap should be the focus of any sincere government at every levels. The plans of strangulating the already strangulated citizens in a guise will be counterproductive. Thus, the unguarded demolitions in several parts of the country is a revelation of our sad as a failed state.