Lagosians Blast Ambode Over Public Holiday Declared for Buhari’s Visit
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
On Tuesday, the Lagos State government declared Thursday, March 29, 2018 as work free day in the state to welcome President Muhammadu Buhari, who is on a two-day working visit to the metropolis.
A statement issued by Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Kehinde Bamigbetan, explained that the holiday was to allow residents of the ‘Aquatic State’ come out enmasse to welcome the President.
In the statement, Mr Bamigbetan urged residents to adhere to the security guidance earlier announced to make the visit as peaceful and orderly.
While in Lagos, Mr Buhari will commission the new Ikeja Bus Terminal, attend a colloquium in honour of national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former governor of the state, Mr Bola Tinubu, and as well as embark on tour of the Eko Atlantic City, among others.
During the visit, traffic would be diverted in some routes and Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Imohimi Edgal, during a press briefing yesterday at the Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja, said adequate preparations have been made to mitigate the impact of the road diversions on residents, while access would be given to any emergency situation.
Mr Edgal, who addressed the briefing alongside heads of security and emergency agencies in the state, said, “To ensure smooth, security-free visit of the President, we would need to do some diversions.
“Some certain roads will be closed at certain times; some diversions will be made but I want to use this opportunity to appeal for the support and understanding of Lagosians that this temporary road closures and diversions might cause a little inconvenience.
“We want the people to bear with us to ensure that we all join hands together to make the visit of Mr. President not only hitch-free but also very memorable.
“The road closures and diversions will be very temporary and immediately the President leaves a certain location, that area will be opened very quickly for the general public. We have also made adequate arrangements to mitigate the impact of the closures on residents.”
He listed the areas to be affected to include Bank Anthony Way in Ikeja, Agege Motor Road, a section of Eko Hotel Road in Victoria Island and Old Marina in Ikoyi axis.
Besides, Mr Edgal said security arrangement was already in top gear and that people would see a lot of deployment of personal of both military and civil logistics adding that it is nothing to worry about.
“We have done the necessary threat assessments; we have reached out to all stakeholders in areas that we believe we should reach out to them to ensure their full cooperation. We are using this opportunity to call again on the Okada Unions and the National Union of Road Transport Workers that they must abide with the terms of agreement we reached during meetings with them regarding the visit.
“We will not want to see commercial motorcycles plying the prohibited routes of Agege Motor Road, Bank Anthony Way and anywhere on the Island. Should that order be disobeyed, we would be constrained to ensure that you are arrested with your motorcycles impounded.
“Whoever is also found as a passenger will also be arrested and prosecuted so do not patronize these Okadas on these prohibited routes not only for the purpose of the visit but also to ensure that Lagos State Laws on the regulation of commercial motorbikes are obeyed at all times,” Mr Edgal warned.
He added that three locations have been designated for all first emergency responders to station their equipment and officials including the Police, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), LASAMBUS, Civil Defence, Fire Brigade, among others at Ikeja, Victoria Island and Free Trade Zone at Lekki-Akodo axis.
On the Apapa gridlock which has spilled over to other parts of the state, the police chief said while the Joint Task Force set up by the state government was already working to ensure free-flow of traffic, the government nonetheless has commenced the construction of a new Trailer Park in Ijora axis that can conveniently accommodate 2,800 trucks and tanker at a time.
“The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, in collaboration with stakeholders, has identified a location known as the White Sand in Ijora axis and we have done an assessment of the place with my colleagues in other agencies and all shanties there have been destroyed.
“Now, the state government has given out the contract to a firm and they are now smoothening up the place. It has the capacity to take well over 2,800 trucks and tankers at the same time. Work is ongoing there at a very fast pace and I can assure Lagosians that very soon, the place will be completed and we intend to move all trucks, tankers to that location and as soon as that is done, we would have permanently take care of this trucks and tankers,” he said.
But reactions have trailed this announcement by the state government with some residents castigating Mr Ambode for declaring a public holiday to welcome the President.
They argued that it was wrong to shut down economy of a ‘mega city’ just because the President was commissioning a ‘mere’ bus terminal that has minute effect on the economy at large.
Furthermore, the critics said it was insensitive to declared Thursday a work free day when Friday and Monday have already been declared as public holidays by Federal Government to mark Easter break.
A journalist with Bloomberg, Mr Paul Wallace, who wrote on his Twitter page, “#Nigeria’s President #Buhari is going to be in #Lagos on Thursday for the first time in a while and Lagos State government has declared it a “work free day,” had many Nigerian lambasting Lagos Governor for the move.
“Senseless set of leaders, declaring work free day for failed president…Lagos is (an emoji showing a face with medical mask),” one of the commenters said.
Another said, “Declare a work-free day, just like that; this doesn’t add up as many businesses especially banks will be adversely affected with Friday and Monday already public holidays.”
“Grounding To A Halt Businesses On A Thursday For The Commissioning Of A “BUS TERMINAL” ??? Outright Rubbish!!!..” a commenter also wrote.
“Arrant nonsense! How does this even make sense to our government? Shutting down a state for a whole day just to commission a bus station! Gutted!” another person said.