As President Muhammadu Buhari makes his debut state visit to Lagos today, it would be an expected lockdown on the city that never sleeps, the 5th largest economy in Africa.
The announcement heralding the visit by the state government is keeping many Lagosians on the edge.
The restrictions on some major roads owing to the protocol of presidential movement is anticipated to heap a huge burden on many citizens, who may seem indifferent to the president’s visit.
And the reasons are obvious. Lagos in the days leading to public holidays and festivals like Easter are always on a high frequency. The roads are jammed, the markets are busy and commercial activities are in a frenzy state.
The regular hassles and buzz leading to Easter celebrations this year may be halted by the president’s visit, particularly after the state government had declared today a work-free day.
Furthermore, the last time buzz was generated around the president’s visit in May 2016, it ended in an anticlimax with a terse statement from the presidency cancelling the visit due to an ear infection, while Buhari was represented by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
In May 23, 2016, Lagosians had woken up to a massive makeover of strategic routes leading to some sites the president would visit then. There were banners and all sorts of billboards across Lagos welcoming President Muhammadu Buhari to the state.
But alas, the over 14 years wait for an official visit of a sitting president to Lagos was stretch by two more years after the aborted but much publicised two-day state visit.
In 2016, all the sites to be visited in Oshodi, Okota and Lagos Island wore new looks. Roads were swept clean and painted in national colours of white and green, 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 given last minute touch-up by the Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC).
Curiously, all these are absent this time around, save for the state government’s travel warning alerting citizens to some route restriction and diversion.