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Was it an election fever…?


Free roads

Oshodi-Oworosoki Expressway, Lagos…yesterday

THE situation was akin to the regular light traffic that Lagos State is known for during public holidays and festive seasons when many people would have travelled to their respective home-towns and villages during festive seasons. Usually a welcome relief for permanent residents, however, the similar scenario that many early risers experienced yesterday did not evoke such emotion.

It was an emotion of shock, surprise and some apprehension as the entire nation waited with anxiety in anticipation of the result of last Saturday’s hotly contested presidential election. The normal early Monday morning heavy traffic that characterises Lagos roads was curiously absent yesterday as many roads in the metropolis witnessed light traffic.

Some of the roads noted for heavy gridlocks especially on Monday morning, the first working day of the week such as Mowe -Berger – Iyana- Oworo- Obalende Road, Oshodi- Mile 2, Yaba and Ojuelegba- Costain all witnessed light traffic. Many streets and bus stops, usually known for their typical hustling and bustling, also witnessed few vehicular movements Also the chaotic traffic situation that characterises roads like Ladipo Spare Parts Market Mushin, Agege, Egbeda, Akowonjo and other surrounding roads along Lagos – Abeokuta Expressway had suddenly given way to light traffic.

For instance, a bus ride from Mowe- Ibafo in Obafemi- Owode Local Council to Berger on Lagos- Ibadan Expressway, which normally takes between one hour and I ½ hours, yesterday took less than 40 minutes. A banker, Ayomide Daniel, who lives in Ibafo but works at Obalende, told The Guardian that yesterday’s traffic situation was akin to a public holiday.

He said: “ I cannot believe that the road could be all that free because I left home earlier as usual only to get to Obalende before 6.30 am. According to him, the scenario may not be unconnected with the trepidation over the result of the general elections. Another Lagosian, Kayode Adekunle said he refused to go out early in the morning for fears that the outcome of the presidential elections might spark up crisis and would not want to be caught up with it.

He also said that many Lagosianas travelled out to vote where they registered for the elections. According to him: “Two of my sisters travelled to Ibadan because they registered there in 2011 and wanted their votes to count.” Adekunle’s position was also corroborated by Michael Chigbu, a spare parts dealer at Ladipo International Market, Mushin, who said many traders travelled out to vote where they registered, while others, who did not want to be caught up with any reaction that might trail the outcome of the elections, stayed away from the market.

Kayode Adekunle said he refused to go out early in the morning for fears that the outcome of the presidential elections might spark up crisis and he would not want to be caught up with the crisis

According to Chigbu, the market will soon regain its normal activities after the dust raised by the elections is cleared. Also commercial motorists are bearing the brunt of scant business activities, as they complained of lack of passengers. Monye Abbe, who plies Oshodi- Mile 11 route, lamented the low patronage of commuters and prayed that the elections be over so that normality will return on the road.

Some Lagosians who were worried over the disquiet told The Guardian that the low rate of vehicular and commuter’s movement in the state might have been caused by fear of the outcome of the 2015 elections results. Christopher Oji, a Lagos-based businessman said: “It is unusual for a Monday in Lagos to be this quiet.

I am sure people are afraid of coming out since they don’t know what the outcome of the election would be. I also think that some non-indigenes travelled to their various states to vote.” Another, Mrs. Justin Dibie said: “People are not sure what the result would be like.

They are afraid that violence may erupt so they stayed at home.” Eugene Agha, a journalist in Lagos said: “This is one of the toughest elections in Nigeria, so people are not sure about what the outcome would be.” One of the traders near OK Foods said the management of the company had sent all the casual staff home in case of any out-break of violence. “Usually, those seeking casual employment are always found loitering around the premises of the company while the staff would be busy working inside.

What we have observed was that nobody was allowed to stay around the premises as usual, while all the workers have been asked to go home until the election result is announced. From every observation, the managers and top management of the company have also taken their leave,” she said.

However, Lagos State Police spokesman, Mr. Ken Nwosu, told The Guardian on telephone that people are going about their normal duties without any fear. According to Nwosu: “Maybe I did not see what you saw. The roads are very busy and Lagosianas are going about their businesses. Those you saw are people who have businesses to do outside; anyone who does not have business to do outside does not have any reason to be outside. There is no cause for alarm in Lagos.” “

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