With the gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown rules in Lagos State, the Communities Alliance against Displacement (CAD) reconvened on Thursday, August 6, 2020 after a long break. The scores of traditional rulers(Baales), community representatives and residents of 16 informal communities that thronged the venue of the general meeting reflects the collective desire of CAD members to get back together to revitalize and scale up their grassroots campaigns.
The general meeting afforded an opportunity for community members who have not seen each for some time to exchange hugs, banters, and resume their business of addressing multiple issues of importance to their members and communities. Issues that topped the meeting’s agenda include attendance at meetings, venue for meetings, designation of dates for general and exco meetings, general elections, including the appointment of officials to coordinate their community engagement activities on the field. CAD general meetings usually comprise two parts: the community interface and the outreach program. During the community interface, representatives share information regarding the most pressing challenges they face in their communities and brainstorm ideas on how to resolve them. The outreach program involves visitation to the communities facing urban deprivations and threats to their shelter and livelihoods, and drawing the attention of urban stakeholders, including municipal or state authorities to intervene.
New meeting dates and venue were chosen while an the electoral body was constituted in accordance with the CAD constitution. The electoral body, the Independent Electoral Alliance Service, (IEAS) is saddled with the responsibility of supervising all electoral matters and ensuring that the general elections scheduled to hold on 8th of October, 2020, are free and fair. The current CAD executives have completed their two-year tenure, giving rise to need to conduct new elections for new executives to emerge. Having concluded their first tenure, some of the executives are gearing for re-election at the upcoming CAD elections and campaigns are already underway.
The general meeting was also an avenue to tackle issues that have lingered for a while, such as the increased insecurity in Ottumara community resulting from a protracted chieftaincy tussle. Another issue is the revival of the WOMENPOWA initiative aimed at empowering displaced women to bounce back from the agony of displacement-induced poverty. Under the initiative, displaced and low-income women in CAD-member communities are provided with small capital to restart their small businesses destroyed during the demolition of their settlements.
Also tabled before the house is the impending flood warnings issued by the Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources. Of the 15 communities expected to be affected, 4 of them are CAD communities which impelled the Alliance to swing swiftly into action. Strategies for mitigation and control were canvassed and sensitization campaigns for the spread of awareness were set in motion. Information is also to be disseminated on how recyclable materials from blocked drainages can be exchanged for incentives which will serve to improve the economic status of residents. The meeting ended with a renewed commitment by members to collectively advance ambitious social change goals during the period of recovery from a health emergency.