Homeless Nigerians and continuous displacement of people

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    They may be helpless but they are not hopeless, they may be homeless but they are not hopeless, they may be displaced from their homes but they are not displaced from among the living- so, they have a voice.

    It is no longer news that a lot of Nigerians are homeless, the news is that the rate at which citizens are entering into the streets to become internally displaced in the last few years is becoming alarming and this requires an urgent attention. People who live in makeshift homes and those who get their houses flooded/destroyed share one thing in common- they become homeless at the end of the storm.

    In Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous city, there is a great record of makeshift homes which has further promoted more dwellers on the Island. Even though the houses were originally intended to be for fishermen who come around for business in this area, some citizens have turned it into their permanent residence which has made the area overly congested.

    Recently, the Lagos State government brought down some houses at OtodoGbame in Lekki; this birthed a lot of reservations from people. “Lagos cannot turn into a megacity overnight and the government that is supposed to protect the rights of the citizens should not render them homeless. No, it is wrong for the government to destroy houses that her citizens live in,” a concerned Nigerian lamented.

    A report by the United Nations in 2015 showed that thousands of peoplewere rendered homeless as a result of the demolitions carried out in Badia area of Lagos. “I am alarmed that over 10,000 people, including children, women and elders have been pushed out of their homes without prior notice in the middle of the rainy season, with police sometimes resorting to violence to carry out the evictions. There was no consultation or discussion about alternative temporary housing options available to them,”LeilaniFarha, United Nations Special Rapporteur was quoted by The Nerve Africa to have said.

    The demolitions, according to Farha, have pushed several people to sleeping in churches, under bridges and lurking around in buildings around their demolished houses- years after they were thrown out of their homes.

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    Aside people being displaced by house demolition, violence, conflict and social unrest have caused thousands of Nigerians to become homeless. As at December 2015,almost 2,152,000 had been displaced owing to the civil unrest in the Northern part of the country, internally displacement monitoring centre (IDMC) reports. Also, reports showed that over “38 million people around the world had been forced to flee their homes by conflict and violence”.

    IDMC reported that “the assessment indicates that 12.6 per cent were displaced due to communal clashes, 2.4 per cent by natural disasters and 85 per cent as a result of insurgency attacks by Islamists”. This explains the effect of the continuous unrest in the North.

    Other causes of homelessness include poverty (unemployment, lack of affordable housing), poor physical or mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, gambling, family and relationship breakdown and domestic violence among other factors.

    Paul Dano says that the world of the homeless is a tough and interesting world; this explains the life experience of MrAinaOrosun who lived under the bridge since he was 17 where he survived with his family and raised his four children until he got help after 30 years of homelessness, according to Nigerians in America news.

    Homelessness is a menace to the society; it breeds insecurity, fear and other similar dangers in the society.People without homes themselves are exposed to dangers of wild animals, diseases and armed robbers.By this, they perceive the society is unkind to them and can make them dislike the city in which they live; this equally poses more danger on the society just as Eva Burrows puts it- “homelessness is not just an isolated social evil, it is the catalyst and the breeding ground for other problems such as marriage difficulties and family breakup, stress, unemployment and alcoholism”.

    In 2015, AlhajiGimba ‎Ya’ukumo‎, the Managing Director of Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) warned that issues relating to housing deficit in the country should be taken more seriously as over 68 million Nigerians were either homeless or poorly housed as seen in World Habitat Report of 2007.

    LateefJakande, former governor of Lagos State, also implored the state government during the eighth Lagos Housing Fair to accelerate the provision of housing for its citizens and make crucial plans to abolish homelessness.

    However, in a report published by the United Nations, “UN Fund, State of the World’s Population 2007: Unleashing the Potentials of Urban Growth,”research showed indications that by year 2030, more than 3.3 billion people will migrate to urban areas irrespective of where they call homes. The report also showed that the number of homeless people in cities will grow by 1.7 billion and the number of city dwellers will reach seven billion.

    In order to avoid such dark future, it is advisable that the scourge of homelessness be taken seriously by the government of the nation as a lot of cities around the world have been set back by the evils that come with homelessness. Most bridges in Lagos serve as homes to a lot of people at night where they are seen wrapped up in their cover clothes to lay their heads till dawn to begin another ‘rough’ day.

    Sometimes it is easy to walk by because we know we can’t change someone’s whole life in a single afternoon. But what we fail to realise is that simple kindness can go a long way toward encouraging someone who is stuck in a desolate place- Mike Yankoski; the road to terminate homelessness should be taken by both individuals and the (chiefly) government, people live in the shelter of each other, let’s work together to end homelessness in our land.