Nigerians on social media have condemned the visit of Amina Mohammed, the United Nations’ Deputy Secretary-General, to Makoko slum in Lagos, calling it as photo spree to secure international funds for personal gains.
Makoko, located along the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, is Nigeria’s largest slum. A third of the slum is built on stilts, and it is mostly inhabited by Egun natives, whose predominant occupation is fishing.
For decades, Lagos State and the federal government have tried to evict the dwellers, while many non-governmental organisations have equally used the people to make money.
Crammed with this history, a number of social media users lashed Mohammed, a one-time Nigerian minister of environment, for what they believe is an attempt by the UN chief to take advantage Makoko’s situation to enrich herself.
“During my visit to Makoko coastal community in Lagos, I saw firsthand the urgency to address sea level rise. Adaptation funding for innovative solutions is key,” Mohammed had tweeted on Friday. But Twitter users were swift to go after her.
“People of Makoko will have a bit of hope after a visit from the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN,” Ikenna said. “Meanwhile, she came to do a photo op for the climate agenda she wants to secure funding for. Funding that will not reach Makoko, as usual.”
“The people of Makoko must be used to this by now. They must be used to having high profile visitors or wannabe high profile visitors come to their community with cameras. Use them to seek funds and never return. It’s sad,” said Shalom Ibironke.
“You think sea level rise is the issues with Makoko? A community that has been used as photo ops and milked by not 1, 2 or 3 governors and high-profile people, including presidents, at every political campaign. Make una dey lie for una international friends,” another Twitter user said.
Others sharing the same thought said:
“Once the climate change fund is secured, Makoko community can sink into the bottom of the sea. But for now, use them for photo ops and secure the bag.”
“The fund involved must be very huge for a whole you to visit Makoko personally. You’ve always known about the slum’s existence from time immemorial though. If Tinubu is to visit Makoko today, he will feign the same ignorance about the existence of their plight.”
“Doing this photo ops to secure funding that won’t get to Makoko?”
Some others argued that climate change was not the biggest challenge facing the dwellers of Makoko.
“You were once a minister of environment and this is your first visit to Makoko. Na wa o,” Sunkanmi Olaniran said.
“Besides sea rise, there is water and air pollution, poverty. Makoko is even a historic communal settlement.Displacement won’t be easy.”
“Fear of Eviction by the Lagos State Government is the nightmare of #Makoko community, not climate change,” another Twitter user noted.
Other comments read:
“Of everything wrong with Makoko, which are lack of basic amenities, inadequate housing, among others, rising sea level is the only thing identified? The first [sic] against climate change should not start from Makoko; [it] should start from Eko Atlantic”.
“Tens of documentaries have been done on this community since the 1990’s, still no government of the state has thought to spare a thought to rehabilitate and reform them.”
“Nigerian intellectuals are the problem. Over a decade ago, the BBC did a documentary on the shame that is Makoko. Privileged Nigerian writers brayed racism.”
“The BBC fled; Makoko stayed the same fertile ground for those who use western grants and privileges to tut tut at the poor.”
Meanwhile, the Lagos government, in 2020, promised that it would not displace Makoko residents.
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