President Muhammadu Buhari will be a guest of the Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for two days this week. And for that, Lagos will be shut down. Heck, a public holiday has also been thrown in for effect.
“The Lagos State government on Tuesday declared Thursday, March 29 as work free day in the State”, a statement from the Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos, Kehinde Bamigbetan, read.
The work free day, Bamigbetan announces, is so that Lagosians “will come out enmasse to welcome President Buhari who is on a historic two-day visit to the State”.
Roads will be closed around Lagos as Buhari visits and this will cause plenty of inconvenience for Lagosians, the State has gleefully announced.
“To ensure smooth, security free visit of the president, we would need to do some diversions. 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”, the statement added.
“A little inconvenience?”
Lagos is a logistical nightmare at the best of times. You can’t step out of your office for a quick snack on normal days because the city’s traffic management ranks up there amongst the worst in the world. For a so-called mega city, the roads around Lagos are pothole ridden and narrow. There’s always bedlam and chaos all over Lagos when roads aren’t closed to traffic. Commuting in Lagos isn't for the faint-hearted. You've got to possess balls of steel to move from point A to B in Lagos.
“A little inconvenience”? Gimme a break!
Essentially, Lagos will be closed for two days, business activities in the nation’s commercial capital will be grounded, everyone has to sit their butts at home when they should be out there making a quick buck for themselves and their families, banks will be shuttered, markets will run skeletal services and courts won’t hear cases just because Buhari is visiting town to commission a bus terminal and attend a public lecture!
I understand all that gibberish about presidential protocol. Trust me, I do get it. I know that Presidents and Governors aren’t mere mortals like the rest of us. I get that these VIPs don’t use the bathroom or fart and don’t inhale through their nostrils like the rest of us. I get it. I get that a president shouldn’t be subjected to the agony of sitting in traffic in a chaotic city like Lagos because slow moving traffic is beneath him.
I totally get it.
What I do not get is declaring a public holiday and stopping everyone dead in their tracks because the president is coming to town. Which other "smart city" in the world would pull a stunt like this?
How do you even rationalize shutting down the 5th largest economy in Africa--a city that accounts for 90 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign trade inflow, which contributes 30 per cent to the country’s GDP and which is home to 65 per cent of Nigeria’s manufacturing activity; because a president is visiting? Like, who does that?
It is little wonder that Bill Gates has been calling us a bunch of unserious people who don’t know the value of our human resource. We are shutting down a city of 20 million and more people for one man; shutting down the nation’s livewire and business hubfor one man?
And you bet Ambode won’t take Buhari through the Ikorodu-Apapa road where tankers have been stationed on federal government bridges for months now, worsening traffic flow for everyone and weakening bridges--because the federal government can’t fix the port road where these articulated vehicles should have been stationed.
A serious nation or State shouldn’t be shutting down operations for a visiting politician. Are we not mad like this?