Politics and Policy

Buhari’s Lagos Visit is Tinubu’s Show of Ownership of Lagos. And Nigeria

Buhari’s visit to Lagos has created a traffic conundrum within the metropolis.

Residents have had to embark on long distance treks to and from different parts of the city as a result of the closure of some routes in honor of the president. Being towards an Easter weekend when movement will reasonably increase for shop-goers who want to make purchases for the holiday, the traffic congestion – which built up from Wednesday – has not been this bad since the beginning of the year. Lagos traffic is bad enough and Buhari has only gone and made it worse, according to the many stranded on the streets without means of getting to work.

The president’s visit is officially purposed to mark his attendance at the 10th annual Bola Tinubu Colloquium. He will be the Chairman of the occasion tagged ‘Investing in People. He is also expected to commission a bus terminal. However, the visit is perceived more as the opportunity to re-affirm his alliance with the Asiwaju. Whether by coincidence or constant calculation, the colloquium and visit have been scheduled for the same March weekend when Buhari was elected president three years ago. Hence, his coming to Lagos is as much an anniversary celebration as it is a re-commitment to the ties that brought that victory with another election year ahead.

However, this ‘victory lap’ is coming at a huge deficit to Lagosians who will suffer major inconveniences for two days. A two-day public holiday declared by the state does not mandate private enterprises to lock their businesses, cancel their travel plans or prevent private primary schools from holding their end of year parties. The east of organisation of each of these activities will be significantly impacted.

Would the state have been shut down if there was a difference between the interests of the government of the state and Tinubu’s? It is a question that critics of the Asiwaju have posed on the grip he continues to have on the state more than 10 years after leaving the Ikeja Government House. In truth, Tinubu’s influence has never been stronger in Nigeria as a whole; the current Vice President was his choice and protégé. Hence, it is not only Tinubu’s Lagos, but the shutdown of Lagos for President Buhari is also to show that it is Tinubu’s Nigeria, at least to an extent.

For Thursday and Friday, Lagosians can really do no more than complain about the traffic, but it does not have to be hopeless. The frustration about toll gate fee increases and tax hikes, combined with the apparent disregard for the grueling implications of shutting down a state for a presidential visit, do not have to be endured as one of the perks of a megacity. They are the marks of a people without a voice and without an alternative.


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