by Joachim MacEbong
This morning, the Lagos State government demolished the premises of the Nuli Juice Company in Ikoyi, which opened at the end of July. The reason given was the non-payment of certain permits to the tune of N40 million. The notice was given to the landlord, but not communicated to the tenants.
By all accounts, the owner of Nuli Juice, Ada Osakwe, and the staff of the company only got to know of the issue this morning, and the action was carried out immediately. The tenants were not given an opportunity to resolve the issue with the government.
Below is a video of the demolition.
Ada Osakwe is a fellow of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, and the company was formed as a result of that fellowship. She also owns an agriculture investment company called Agrolay.
— Ada Osakwe (@Ada_Osakwe) July 27, 2016
During the Obasanjo administration, a lot of privatisation of Federal government property was done, and these properties came with certificates of occupancy, reducing the revenue the state government would get from them. In their place, high fees were charged for ‘planning permission’, and it is the non-payment of those fees by the landlord that led to the demolition.
This demolition also appears to be part of a wider action that commenced today. A bakery was also demolished this morning.
This bakery owner paid 5m naira in rent YESTERDAY. Lagos state gov tore it down today pic.twitter.com/MrYsIhIFcb
— Stephanie Hegarty (@stephhegarty) September 1, 2016
In a time of recession, when governments all over Nigeria are talking about job creation and attracting foreign investment, simply demolishing the premises of a job creator is at odds with that rhetoric. Surely, a win-win situation with Nuli Juice could have been found.
These actions feed into an ongoing conversation about the ease of doing business in Nigeria, and whether the government really means what it says about ensuring small businesses do well.