On November 24th, 2022 we attended the Just City Project documentary launch by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Nigeria. The Just City Project is an effort by the FES to advance social democracy, growth, and dialogue, particularly for marginalised informal communities in urban areas.
The majority of these unofficial settlements in Lagos State are found along the coast, where construction companies and the government are looking to build infrastructure. These communities are then singled out as being illegal settlements, and the government that is supposed to be protecting them constantly threatens to demolish and evict them.
The documentary focuses on the Ayetoro community, which is currently located on the Lagos lagoon, separated from their previous settlement area by the 3rd mainland bridge ramp that made way for the LSDC estate in 1978. 44 years later, they face the same threat from the government, which wants to relocate the Okobaba sawmill, which is attached to the community and provides most of the community members with a living, without regard for the people in that community.
Aside from the immediate threat of displacement, these communities must also deal with the impact of global warming, such as ocean reclamation and flooding, which exacerbates their capacity to survive and build resilience.
To summarise, we must not only continue to empower these communities to resist injustice and take ownership of their struggles, but we must also hold policymakers, the private sector, and the government accountable for breaches of human and environmental rights.
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