By Ed Malik, A | September 27, 2022

Prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), slammed the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu over obnoxious regulations and suffocating multiple taxations which are further plunging the over 20 million residents of the State into depression and poverty.

In a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, he lambasted the Sanwo-Olu administration for failure to curb perennial building collapse and flooding in the State despite the suffocating yoke of taxation on Lagosians without the corresponding investment on relevant infrastructures to make life less burdensome for the common man.

The group noted that since Sanwo-Olu assumed office, there has been a steady rise in number of collapsed buildings, which is a pointer to the weak or non-existent oversight of the monitoring departments and agencies, who are seemingly more concerned about illicit revenues secured from various ambush laws that the citizens are unaware of.

The HURIWA called out the State government, that instead of taking professional measures to address flooding, which is another environmental problem ravaging the State, the frequent building collapses killing scores almost on a regular basis, the traffic gridlock plaguing the city due to dilapidated roads and unavailable infrastructure networks, the issue of refuse disposal and lack of proper drainage channels, the governor since 2019, would rather introduced one draconian law and taxes or the order without minding the plight of the masses.

HURIWA recalled that in September 2022 alone, Lagos recorded over six building collapses, with scores of people killed and many injured, which in a proper scheme of things, are disasters that could have been avoidable if the State government would focus more on its constitutional job and enforce building control standards.

For instance, in September, in the Amukoko area of Lagos, the fence of a school, Covenant Point Academy, collapsed on pupils. A seven-storey building caved in in the Victoria Island area. Flood sank a house in Mende, Maryland. A house collapsed at Oye Sonuga Street, in Mushin. Sadly, scores of persons lost their lives while many others were injured in all of these recent tragic incidents.

Earlier in August, a building collapsed in the Bariga area of Lagos. Similarly, eight bodies were recovered after a three-storey building collapsed in Ebute-Metta in May. Another building in the Ago Palace Way area also collapsed.

Building collapses have been at its highest in Lagos since last November when a high-rise building crumbled in the Ikoyi area of the state, killing at least 44 people and injuring many others. The figure is aside from those who have been swept away by flooding in Lagos since the incumbent governor assumed office in May 2019.

“Away from building collapses and disasters resulting from flooding, the state government in September confiscated over 130 vehicles for alleged traffic offences and auctioned off the vehicles even as the owners shed tears and begged the government for leniency. However, the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu didn’t budge but took away their means of livelihood when the government can prescribe a fine or a less draconian penalty based on the prerogative of mercy. If this is not an anti-people government, then what is it?” HURIWA’s Onwubiko queried.

“As if not enough, the administration of Governor Sanwo-Olu also created the Lagos State Parking Authority to collect parking levy in respect of parking spaces in State. In fact, with this new law, business owners and residents will be compelled to pay hundreds of thousands annually for parking spaces in front of their premises. What could be more exploitative than this?”, wondered HURIWA Boss.

“Could it be that the desperation to rev up the revenue base, at this time, is being propelled by the drive to raise funds for campaign of a high-profile politician from the State who’s gunning for the top post in the land be the immediate reason driving the incumbent Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to over-tax the people of the state through official non-democratic exploitation?”

“HURIWA is alarmed that under Governor Sanwo-Olu, Lagos can now bear some inglorious similarities with North Korea, where many several obnoxious regulations like primordial penalties for traffic offences, the plot to tax for watching television and listening to radio, car parking fees for residents even when city planning and sanitation is poor causing perennial floods, collapses of houses and even empowering motor park touts to undermine properly constituted transport unions just for political agenda are the new normal”.

In saner climes, intelligent politicians are coming together to seek ways to reduce taxes and tax-related burdens on their people, but the reverse seems to be the case of Lagos under Governor Sanwo-Olu, lamented the HURIWA statement, and called for a stop to the abysmal drift, saying that any lay that has no human face is pure evil.

“According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Lagos has the highest Internally Generated Revenue in Nigeria with N267.23bn in H1 2021. However, rather than use the excessive cash flow to benefit the people who should enjoy their own taxes, the Sanwo-Olu government keeps introducing suffocating taxes and thereby, pushing Lagosians into farther regions of poverty whilst the few members of families controlling the political power structures are doing all the contracts and consultancy services, milking Lagos dry.

“The state government should retrace its diabolical and anti-people’s steps earnestly and stop its wicked policy of impoverishment of commoners from all angles. Democracy is about developmental governance and not milking the people dry.”

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