When Nigerians (who are often in underserved communities and are barely able to get by) are asked to evacuate the places they call home either for radical gentrification purposes they can no longer gain access to or sometimes for protracted infrastructural development, these evacuation notices aren’t always immediately acted upon.
Why? There are simply no alternatives provided or support from the people leading these displacements and yes this has been normalized, but no, it is not okay.
The recent mass evacuation of the residents of Tarkwa Bay speaks aptly to this very disturbing condition. The residents who were forced to bundle their lives together under two hours while soldiers fired into the air (with the possibility of a stray bullet injuring unarmed and frantic residents) are made up mostly of the vast Nigerians living below the poverty line or floating precariously above it. These people have been sighted with the meagrr materials that once held their lives in place, sleeping under bridges and naturally increasing Lagos’ rising housing problem and the homeless people it births every day.
To be honest, the circumstances under which the Tarkwa Bay residents were evicted matters less than the devastating situations the government, charged with the responsibility of protecting lives and properties, is putting these people through. In their silence and in their inactivity towards providing alternatives for these people who desperately need them.
This begs the question, to which we honestly already know the answer, of who the government really stands for. Not the people apparently. Not the people who are unable to get good jobs and afford comfortable lives yet are expected to somehow find accommodation for themselves without prior notice, in a city where gentrification has shot rent up to inaccessible heights.
The people of Tarkwa Bay do not deserve this. The children who will be scarred from this betrayal, the parents who will have to work harder to find new living spaces, that is if they are able to find work in the first place.
Our government removes the human, the bodies, hopes, dreams, and struggles of the people at the center of their vicious policies and that isn’t just heartbreaking. It is a reminder of how much safety and insulation we can be allowed depending on our economic class or if the government approves the clinical wipe-out of humans so as to have loftier structures only elites can afford in their place.