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Election results heighten tension, as workers close early 


Lag Island• Fashola denies work-free day directive

THERE was tension in Lagos metropolis yesterday prior to the announcement of results for the presidential election held last Saturday.

In anticipation of breakdown of law and order following the declaration of winner of the keenly contested election, several shops and offices around Ikeja, Alausa and Yaba abruptly shutdown at mid-day.

The confusion indeed worsened as information went round Alausa secretariat, the seat of Lagos government that the state government had sent a circular directing all civil servants to close at noon. It turned out to be a rumour shared through the facebook.   Though the information was soon denied by the government, mass exodus of workers was witnessed in Alausa around 1pm. While the bus stops were packed with pedestrians, private car owners also funneled through the Alausa exit gate in a manner typical of 4pm rush hour.

One of the workers, Abimbola Mogaji, told The Guardian that she was closing early to get home before INEC announces the result and area boys (urchins) embark on street protest.   According to Mogaji, “We are in the season where anything can happen. If government has told us to go home, who am I to wait? My children are still young and they need me more,” she said.   Another, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “A colleague told me that the governor has directed workers to go home against any violent reactions that announcement of results might cause.

“You know the INEC Chairman is announcing the results any moment from now and some people might not like the results and might react in a bad way. I think the directive is to make workers safe from hoodlums, who might want to cause trouble after the announcement,” he said.

The dark cloudy weather did not help the confusion either. By 3pm when it started to rain, Alausa secretariat was already deserted.

In response to the development, state governor, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), around 3:30, emerged from the state executive council meeting to say that the “go home” message did not emanate from his office but from mischief-makers.   Fashola told reporters that in almost eight years of his administration, he had never issued a directive as far as government work is concern via the social media.

He said: “Things like work free-day and security issues have never been issued by me through social media. Rather, we have always resorted to making broadcast in person or I ask the Head of Service to issue circular, or I ask the Commissioner for Information and strategy to make announcement of the state broadcast stations. That will not change.    Fashola said it is unfortunate that some people at this time tried to create tension for whatever reasons. But this is the time that residents of Lagos should be happy that we have crossed the first hurdle of the election and we are going through the next process, which is counting and collating of the results.

While appealing to Lagosians to remain calm, he there is no incident of insecurity in the state. “The state is safe. Residents should go about their lawful business; there is no cause to fear,” he said.

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