Dr. John Metchi, the Prime Minister of the Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU), has urged Igbo residents in Lagos State to consider relocating their investments home.
Meche said a huge stretch of land had been provided in Umueri community, Anambra East Local Government, for Igbo traders and other businesses to build an international market of global standard.
He stated this while reacting to the ongoing demolition of structures in some parts of Lagos State which has affected many traders from the South-East.
The demolition in areas like Lekki, Alaba Market, Ajao Estate, Abule Egba, Ladipo Market and others has raised serious controversy, with Ohaneze Ndigbo and other socio-economic groups calling for human-faced approach to such exercise in view of the harsh effect it is having on traders and other businesses.
But the Lagos State government, through the Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources in the state, Tokunbo Wahab, has said that the demolitions were targeting only illegal structures built without approvals, adding that the move was aimed at restoring sanity.
In a statement on Friday, Metchie who is also the African Director, International Association of World Peace Advocates (IAWPA), said it was difficult at the moment to determine whether or not the demolitions were deliberately targeted at Igbo traders as some of the victims claimed, in view of the state government’s position that only illegal structures were affected.
Metchie said that the only available and long-term solution to the recurrent ugly occurrence of demolitions in Lagos was for Igbo traders and those engaged in other businesses, to take advantage of the situation to begin investment at home, adding that Umueri, which he said already had an international cargo and passenger airport, provided the best destination for investment.
“What is happening in Lagos, in terms of demolition of properties belonging to, or housing businesses, owned mainly by Igbo traders is very unfortunate and worrisome.
“But when you look at it from the claims and counter-claims, you would see that it is difficult at this point to draw a conclusion.
“This is because, while the affected traders say that the demolition was deliberately targeted at them and their businesses because they are Igbo, the state government is brandishing documents, claiming that only illegally built structures were being removed, in order to restore sanity.
“Therefore, the only window we have at the moment is to advise the state government to trade with caution in carrying out the exercise. This is because it is wrong to bring down the means of livelihood of people without providing them alternatives.
“Again, whether the structures were built illegally or not, it is still officials of the government that signed the allocations, maybe after collecting underhand inducements.
“To that effect, Lagos, as a responsible government, should consider paying compensations to the affected traders and other businesses, to reduce the hardship caused by the demolitions,” he stated.
Metchie, who is also the President-General of Umueri General Assembly, said that the long term and permanent solution to the issue was looking back home.
“This is therefore a call to Igbo traders and other businesses in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria and the world to look back and think home.
“No matter what you have abroad, you are still a stranger there. While we believe and propagate one united Nigeria, it is good to invest at home or close to home.
“In Umueri, we have a large expanse of land that can accommodate an international market. Already Umueri boasts of an International Cargo and Passenger airport,” he further stated.