By: Segun Lawal
Following the apprehension that has greeted the scheduled visit of President Muhammadu Buhari for the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential rally on Saturday, the Lagos State Government on Friday allayed fears of residents assuring that there would be no road closures as earlier announced.
Briefing journalists at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, the State’s Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Ladi Lawanson said the earlier statement announcing diversion and road closure had been reviewed, adding that residents were free to go about their businesses.
Lawanson, who is also a member of the transport sub-committee for the Presidential visit and the APC rally, said Lagosians should jettison an earlier announcement by the committee to the effect that there would be road closures.
He said: “Lagosians have been very apprehensive that there will be traffic gridlock and we got a lot of feedbacks that we intend to grind Lagos to a halt. People are apprehensive; they think we are going to shut down Lagos; they think movement would be restricted and they are bracing themselves for what they anticipate would be the hardship that would be visited on them by the president’s visit and our own activities.
“The purpose of this press conference is to clarify that and to state emphatically that there will be from zero to minimal adverse effect of the President’s visit tomorrow. I repeat, there will be between zero to the barest minimum amount of disruptions to the normal movement that Lagosians undertake on a Saturday like tomorrow.
“So, there will not be any road closures in Lagos tomorrow and Lagosians are free to go about their normal businesses tomorrow, Saturday,” Lawanson said.
He said adequate arrangement had been firmed up to ensure free flow of traffic, but that residents should expect tight security around the routes which the President is expected to pass through in the course of his visit and the venue of the rally.
“We would just like to communicate that because we are expecting a high caliber personality no less a person than the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the normal security precautions that attend a visit of this nature should be expected.
“The President would visit Lagos tomorrow with the full retinue of security aides that protect him and his entourage but there will not be any road closures and there will be zero to minimal disruptions of normal activities,” the Commissioner said.
Lawanson, who addressed the briefing alongside the General Manager of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Mr Wale Musa and the Lagos State Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Mr Hyginus Omeje, said there would be huge presence of officials of the police, LASTMA, FRSC and other agencies to ensure free flow of traffic around the Surulere axis.
“Around the venue of the rally which is the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere and the adjourning streets are traffic management agencies such as LASTMA, FRSC, Police and other agencies that would support them tomorrow.
“They will handle the traffic management around the venue tomorrow and so people can expect to see a huge presence of our traffic management officers fully on ground to ensure that there is free flow of traffic. We consider it important to clarify this so that we can communicate to Lagosians and give them the assurance that Lagos and especially Surulere would not be on lockdown,” the Commissioner said.
Also speaking, Musa said LASTMA would be deploying tow trucks to promptly evacuate any broken down vehicle and adequate personnel to tackle any gridlock that may arise from the President’s visit and the activities around the Surulere.
Election shift: I’m deeply disappointed with INEC —Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed deep disappointment over the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly polls by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The President lamented that, despite giving all the necessary support to the electoral umpire, the exercise was postponed just hours to voting and after Nigerians had taken the pains to travel to vote.
“I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission postponed the presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commencement,” Buhari said in a statement he signed on Saturday morning in Daura, Katsina State.
However, he asked INEC to ensure the safety of election materials already distributed and appealed to Nigerians to remain law abiding.
Buhari also stated that he had decided to relocate to Abuja from Daura to ensure that the meeting INEC called to hold with stakeholders was successfully.
His statement reads further, “We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement, and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates.
“While I reaffirm my strong commitment to the independence, neutrality of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process and ballot, I urge all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment in our democratic journey.
“I, therefore, appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development.”
Source: Punch Newspaper
President Buhari’s statement on postponement of elections by INEC
STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT BUHARI ON THE POSTPONEMENT OF GENERAL ELECTIONS BY INEC
I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the Presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commencement.
Many Nigerians have traveled to various locations to exercise their right to vote, and international observers are gathered.
INEC themselves have given assurances, day after day and almost hour after hour that they are in complete readiness for the elections. We and all our citizens believed them.
This administration has ensured that we do not interfere in any way with the work of INEC except to ensure that all funds were released to the commission.
We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement, and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates.
While I reaffirm my strong commitment to the independence, neutrality of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process and ballot, I urge all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment in our democratic journey.
I, therefore, appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development.
I have decided to move back to Abuja to ensure that the 14.00 hrs meeting called by INEC with all stakeholders is successful.
Daura, February 16, 2019
Election postponement: I’m disappointed….Balarabe Musa
Former Kaduna State Governor, Balarabe Musa, on Saturday expressed disappointment over the postponement of the general elections, but declared that INEC was never prepared for the exercise in the first place.
INEC had announced the postponement a few hours to the kickoff of the February 16 presidential and National Assembly polls.
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, while announcing the postponement in Abuja, attributed the step to “overwhelming logistics and operational challenges.”
The Commission fixed February 23 and March 9 as new dates for the presidential and National Assembly elections; and the governorship and state Assembly polls respectively.
But Musa, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Kaduna on Saturday, said he was disappointed, but not surprised, at the development.
“I am not surprised because INEC was never ready for the exercise, given the level of its preparations.
“INEC had serious funding challenges; what was appropriated to the Commission by the National Assembly was not adequate and everyone knew it.
“We are not even sure if the approved amount was released to the electoral body by the Federal Government.
“The logistics and operational challenges are glaring. There are also serious security challenges that may affect the agency in the course of the elections.
“The security services are facing the same funding crises and most of them are living in fear.
“You can also see the serious challenges being faced by the Judiciary, who are supposed to play a major role in the election process,” Musa said.
“So, I must say that I am disappointed; but, again, as I said, I am not surprised. I hope that all the stakeholders will take the necessary measures to help INEC address the issues before February 23, the new date for the presidential polls, because the President can only hand over power to an elected person.”
Musa called on Nigerians to remain calm as they prepare towards the new dates for the polls.
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