A LOT of dust has been raised by the decision of the Lagos State Government (LASG) to remove indigent Nigerians from the streets of the economic capital of the nation and repatriate them to their perceived states of origin.
Executed by the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) department of the state government, several trips have been undertaken, ferrying beggars and the homeless to various parts of the country.
The LASG argues that it is part of preparing the Lagos metropolis as a modern mega-city able to attract tourists and genuine business interests from all over the world.
Indeed, the mega-city project of the Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola regime started shortly after he assumed office in June 2007 with the radical cleaning up of Oshodi, hitherto notorious for its clutter and criminality.
It was followed up with the beautification and greening of many erstwhile dirty and dark spots all over the state and thus giving the city a great facelift.
However, the forcible removal of Nigerian citizens from Lagos and their forced relocation to regions of ethnic origin touches on the constitutional right of Nigerian citizens to live or settle in any part of the country freely and without molestation.
It is one of the fundamental human rights fully guaranteed in Chapters III and IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
The same Constitution and our various extant laws clearly spell out lawful steps that should be taken when citizens engage in undesirable or unlawful acts.
We are calling on the Lagos State Government and any other political authority in the country faced with the challenges of influx of destitute and mendicant Nigerians and foreigners to follow strictly the laws of the land and also employ skillful dialogue and diplomacy at the political level in confronting them.
The task of building a modern city out of Lagos is not only for the Lagos State Government. It is a collective responsibility of all citizens and residents. The government and residents must work together towards that common purpose, with the government taking the lead and residents offering full support.
There is no laudable policy that cannot be implemented, no matter how painful it may initially seem to the populace or sections thereof, provided that maturity and statesmanship are brought to bear.