Lagos in massive facelift for president’s visit
Buhari cancels trip, to be represented by Vice President Osinbajo
Lagosians woke up at the weekend to a massive makeover of strategic routes leading to some sites the president would visit today. There were banners and all sorts of billboards across Lagos welcoming President Muhammadu Buhari to the state.
But alas, the over 14 years non-official visit of a sitting president to Lagos State will unfortunately stretch a little longer as President Buhari yesterday called off his much publicised two-day state visit to Lagos. The visit, which would have seen the President inaugurating a number of projects would have started today and ended on Tuesday.
All the sites to be visited in Oshodi, Okota and Lagos Island yesterday wore new looks in preparation to receive the president. Roads were swept clean and painted, flags of Nigeria, the state and All Progressives Congress (APC) party adorned all the routes where the president’s motorcade would pass through, while some roads were being given a last minute touch-up by the Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC).
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, confirmed the development yesterday. Adesina said Buhari would be represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. He, however, did not give any reason for the last minute cancellation of Buhari’s trip.
An online report had yesterday announced that the president was cancelling the visit due to an ear infection but the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who also confirmed the development, said Buhari would still embark on the visit after Ramadan.
“The Vice-President will only inaugurate some of the projects. The President will still embark on the trip after Ramadan to inaugurate the remaining projects,” he said. This year’s Ramadan is due to start in June 6 and would not end until July 5.
According to a source in the Lagos State government, the decision was taken at the last minute yesterday to avoid a probable embarrassment for the president owing to the ongoing Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) strike in protest against the hike in fuel price, as there were fears hoodlums, popularly called Area Boys may take advantage of the strike to cause public unrest in Lagos.
“You will recall that on Friday, the All Progrssives Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, met with labour leaders in Lagos to shelve their ongoing strike, even if it was obvious it was not effective. Similarly, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, Ibe had scheduled to host a town hall meeting with some civil society groups at the Lagos Airport Hotel today.
“But it appears the president’s team were actually working ahead of the late announcement of the official call-off of the NLC strike, when they convinced Buhari to avoid going to Lagos at a time like this, bearing in mind that the visit would entail an extensive outdoor itinerary and visit to public places.”
Ahead of the planned visit, members of the president’s advanced team consisting of protocol officials, security agents, medical officers and journalists among others were already in Lagos ahead of Buhari when his trip was cancelled. Some of them arrived Lagos on Thursday while some others joined on Saturday and Sunday.
The Lagos State government has, however, warned residents that there would be diversion in some routes when the president visits today. This was confirmed in a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Steve Ayorinde, who quoted Governor Akinwunmi Ambode as urging residents to bear with law enforcement agents and traffic control authorities, who will effect road diversions in some of the routes that the President motorcade will pass through during the visit.
Here are places to avoid if it is not so important as Lagos host the Vice President today: Cappa, Ilupeju Bypass, Mushin and Ladipo market area – as Prof. Yemi Osinbajo will commission the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) Rescue Unit in Cappa Oshodi; Cele – Ago Palace area, Isolo and Oshodi-Apapa expressway, where the president’s representative will commission the newly constructed Ago Palace Way.
Others areas to avoid are Lagos Island, Adeniji Adele and Idumota for the president’s courtesy visit to the Oba of Lagos; and Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Muson, Onikan, Awolowo Road in Ikoyi, where the president will hold a grand rally at TBS.