8th June, 2021.
Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu,
The Executive Governor of Lagos State.
Ikeja, Lagos State.
TEXT OF THE PETITION TO THE LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT BY THE NIGERIAN AUTOMOBILE TECHNICIANS ASSOCIATION, (NATA) ON THE OCCASION OF ITS MASS PROTEST AGAINST FORCED TAKE-OVER OF MECHANIC VILLAGES FOR THE PRIVATE USE OF GOVERNMENT OFFICER.
About four decades ago, Lagos State Government under the unforgettable Alhaji Lateef Jakande administration allotted mechanic clusters known as Mechanic villages to Lagos mechanics to curb the menace of the problematic ‘roadside mechanics’ littering Lagos neighbour-hood before that time. Unfortunately, since 1999, these public spaces, many of them in difficult marshy areas and canal setbacks redeveloped by the mechanics at great expense, are being systematically stolen by government officials under various pretexts.
The Alhaji Jakande administration’s initiative anticipated several international covenants binding governments to make available public spaces for informal workers to work because of the realities of weak economies in African countries and poor policies which create mass unemployment, forcing people to work in the informal sector. These include the Sustainable Development Goal 8:3, the New Urban Agenda of the Unted Nations as well as the ILO Recommendation 204. All of these covenants urge governments to respect the right of informal workers to make use of public spaces and offer assistance to make such places conducive for work.
Unfortunately, in the past two decades in Lagos State, some government officials in the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Transport, The Lagos Lands Bureau and Ministry of Physical Planning have continually colluded with private ‘developers’ and land grabbers to dispossess us of our mechanic villages or in some instances as is the case with Mr. Toyin Fayinka, the current Special Adviser on Transportation to the Governor of Lagos State, who has made it his business to take over all mechanic villages, these spaces are converted to private use of the officials. Some of the mechanic villages taken over or sold out to developers in recent years include:
- Babs Animashaun Mechanic Village, Surulere under high tension power grids was demolished on 20th October, 2017, by the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Physical Planning. Today this seized plot of land from where over 3 thousand mechanics were evicted has a hotel, petro station and residential units right under the high tension power grids built on it. A disaster waiting to happen.
- Odo Aladura Mechanic Village was demolished on 7th July, 2020, by our Land Lord (Ministry of Transportation) in the unholy hour of 3:00am, led by Hon. Toyin Fayinka, claiming that the governor gave the directives. Over a thousand mechanics were affected by this eviction with hundreds of vehicles and properties worth hundreds of millions of naira destroyed while scores of vehicles were towed away to the Task Force Office. Some of these vehicles are still there up till today. We later learned that this mechanic village was sold to Igbo traders.
- GID mechanic village in Surulere was demolished earlier this year 2021.
- Ifelagba Mechanic Village which we have been occupying since 1984 in Coker, Surulere was demolished by Ministry of Environment and the Lands Bureau on 29th April, 2021 because we could not pay Fifty-Seven Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N57,500,000). However, this land was sold for Three Hundred Million Naira (N300,000,000). Was this money paid into the Government purse?
- Six mechanic workshops were taken by Mr. Oluwatoyin Fayinka (Special Adviser on Transportation) and converted to “Park and Pay” where he makes thousands of naira daily to himself.
- The only Mechanic Village in the Ikorodu axis at Owutu is about to be taken by the Chairperson of Ikorodu West LCDA. She wants to build lock-up shops and market, and drive our people out to be practicing by the road side.
- Deacon Oye Akinola Mechanic Village in Alaba Oro is about to be acquired by Igbo Traders, mainly spare parts dealers. They are boasting that with Ten Million Naira (N10,000,000) to Fifteen Million Naira (N15,000,000) being given to Officials at Alausa, they will surely drive us away from the mechanic village like the case of Odo Aladura in Ladipo.
- Illegal acquisition of six (6) workshops at Papa Ajao Mushin by the Special Adviser on Transportation Mr. Toyin Fayinka. Fayinka has turned himself into the position of the Alpha and Omega of the Ministry of Transportation and seems to perceive his sole responsibility as to acquire mechanic villages/mechanic workshops illegally, especially at Papa Ajao and its environs. Toyin Fayinka was fully responsible for the illegal acquisition of the mechanic workshop at 17, Odushina Street, off Akinwumi Street, Ladipo Mushin, Lagos State. The process in which this Mechanic workshop was taken from its rightful owner is most reprehensible. Toyin Fayinka allocated the said mechanic workshop to one Abbey Destiny Nigeria Enterprises (which we believe he is the owner of the company) via a letter dated 19th September, 2019, when there is an existing allotee who has been paying his ground rent as and when due, and who was lawfully carrying out his business until 25th May, 2020 when he passed on. The painful part is that the deceased’s 5 children both male & female who are also auto mechanics, rewire, panel-beater, spray painter practicing on this said workshop are now rendered jobless. Hon. Toyin Fayinka, who told the family of the allottee that the land is not transable and not saleable, give the sum of Four Million Naira (N4,000,000) to the family of the allottee. What has Fayinka done, and he said that the land is not saleable but give out Four Million Naira (N4,000,000) to acquired the land? Ordinarily, if Igbo traders are to buy this land they will pay as much as Forty Million Naira (N40,000,000), but Fayinka give the family the sum of Four Million Naira (N4,000,000), and also give the Sharing formular to the family.
- Toyin Fayinka has also illegally taken over several mechanic workshops at 39/41 Ojekunle Street, Papa Ajao Mushin, Lagos which he now uses as “Park and Pay” from where he makes thousands of Naira both day and night.
- The Return of all Mechanic Villages duly allotted to mechanics by the Lagos State Government but currently taken over by the force of arms orchestrated by various agents of the Lagos State Government. Especially the recent Ifelagba Mechanic Village.
- The return of all Mechanic Workshops in Ladipo sold by Hon. Toyin Fayinka, and also the ones he (Hon. Toyin Fayinka) has converted to warehouses and “park and Pay”, should be returned back to NATA members.
- The immediate removal of Toyin Fayinka whose activities as the Special Adviser on Transportation borders on criminal impunity.
- The provision/allocation of more mechanic work clusters across the state to take care of the needs of Lagosians for the services of skilled technicians and as means of employment for thousands of newly trained mechanics and auto technicians, many of whom are graduates of Technical Colleges and Polytechnics but currently with nowhere to work.This accords with the provisions of the UN New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals for inclusive urban development with special attention to the needs of the growing number of informal workers for decent workspaces, especially youths who are into this trade.
ASIWAJU JACOB OMONIDE FAYEUN, NATA LAGOS STATE CHAIRMAN