Lagos — In spite of opposition to the demolition of structures on Lagos Lagoon at Makoko area of the city, Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola yesterday said government will not allow continuous expansion on the lagoon because it is capable of endangering the ecosystem and the environment.
However, Fashola expressed sadness and tendered an apology over the loss of lives arising from the exercise. He promised that the incident would be investigated. The governor maintained that the government was carrying out the exercise for the benefit of the people of Lagos.
Addressing the protesting residents, Fashola said the state government understands the challenges confronting the people, not only in Makoko, also those in Okobaba.
"We have had three meetings with your representatives and Okobaba's representatives. Okobaba people are ready to move, and we are preparing a suitable place for them to continue their work in Agbowa area of the state. But, your representatives insisted. Makoko residents prefer to stay and what we are witnessing is daily expansion of illegal structures on the lagoon. We intervened because we noticed a daily expansion on the lagoon and the lagoon is shrinking. We will not allow continuous expansion in that place. It has to stop. Those within the recognized boundary in the area have no problem, but those who put up new structures have to leave," he said.
Fashola also informed the residents that his government has a dream of turning the area into the Venice of Africa.
"We have a plan to turn that place into the Venice of Africa. I am committed to the idea. Don't let some people continue to deceive you because if you allow them, they will benefit from your difficulties. Some people are taking advantage of your ignorance and feeding fat by collecting foreign grants that do not get to you. I therefore appeal to you to go back peacefully and appoint some of your leaders to meet me. My doors are open. The truth is that we have to protect our ecosystem and the environment," he said.
Earlier, the head of Makoko Community, Chief Yusuf Sodiq, said residents of the area are yet to enjoy the benefits of democracy despite the fact that they voted for the ruling party in the state. He debunked the information that government decided to demolish the structures on the lagoon because it serves as a base for criminals. "We are all fishermen and fishing is what we have been doing from generation to generation. If we are finally displaced from on top of the water, we won't be able to survive," the chief said.
The demolition continued throughout the week until the weekend when one of the policemen in company of the demolition team allegedly shot at the deputy head of the community, Chief Timothy Hunpoyanwha, who later died.