After a building collapsed in the Nigerian city of Lagos, killing at least 11 people, including several schoolchildren attending a school on the building’s top floor, the Socialist Party of Nigeria issued a statement on Friday listing what should be done to avoid such tragedies in the future.
ILagos State Chapter of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) commiserates with the families of the dead and injured (school children and adults) as a result of the building that collapsed at Ita-Faji area of Lagos Island on March 13, 2019. SPN demands adequate compensation should be paid to the affected families and publicly funded medical treatment for the injured.
The collapse of three-storey building clearly indicates the terrible chaos in the education and housing sectors as a result of neglect and underfunding of all key sectors of the economy. Neo-liberal capitalist policies which are hinged on profit-first as well as cuts in social public spending are responsible for the incessant collapse of buildings and poor state of public education. Hence, many buildings are usually built solely for profit devoid of standard, safety and human needs. This is similar to what is obtainable in the education sector wherein the obvious failure of Lagos State Government like other governments has given room for proliferation of substandard and unaffordable private schools whose primary motive is profit.
Lagos is the fifth biggest economy in Africa if it were to be a country and yet lacks adequate basic infrastructure. The housing deficit in Lagos stands at 5 million housing units while the state only boast of about 1600 public schools as against 18,000 private schools. The dominance of private education and privately built housing is a reflection of a state whose ruling elite in the last 32 years have constantly neglected key sectors of the economy while using public resources to guarantee huge profit for a tiny privileged few. The lack of plan of Lagos reflects a state of jungle with little or nothing to show for its huge resources and potential.
Hence, it is diversionary for the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode to put the blame squarely on the private developer, landlord and the school owner. The state government is an accessory to the death of the children and by this token also guilty. We challenge Ambode to make public the housing and education policy of the government. The same government has demolished markets and communities and handed the space to private developers who in turn construct for the rich while the original poor occupants were displaced. The government and its ruling Party (APC) in Lagos has constantly and undemocratically refused to publicly publish the detail of its budget and projects. This is an inherently deficient government whose preoccupation is to abandon the people while spending hundreds of billions of Naira on vote buying as was witnessed in the last general election.
Lagos SPN feels strongly that the only way out is for a public sector led investment in education, housing and other key sectors of the economy in Lagos and Nigeria as whole, and democratically and transparently managed to meet the needs of all as against the profit avarice, pillage and primitive accumulation of public resources/funds by a handful privilege few. We demand inter alia public investigation into the collapse and punishment of all those responsible, adequate compensation to victims’ families, nationalization of the profit-dominated housing and construction industries under public democratic control and adequate public investment in public education to end the menace of mushroom and substandard private education in Lagos State.