President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent visit to Lagos may well turn out to be the most controversial, problematic and unpopular state visits by a Nigerian President in recent history.
Before, during and after the two-day visit, his handlers were kept busy defendng and explaining and debunking and clarifying a number of embarrasing reports leading to, and surrounding the visit.
Below are six reasons why President Buhari may wish he never visited Lagos.
1. Confusion over what he actually went to do at Eko Atlantic City
The most recent explanation from his media aides is the purpose of his visit to the Eko Atlantic City.
His Twitter handle had posted photos from the visit showing the president cutting a tape, with people getting the impression that he was performing a launching or commissioning.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in his tweet said Buhari officially commissioned the project.
“We took a tour of the Eko Atlantic City with Mr. President as he officially commissioned the project. Eko Atlantic is a good example of what Public and Private partnership can do to the Nigerian economy.”
But reports quickly made the rounds that the president was commissioning a project that was already commissioned by his predecesssor, Goodluck Jonathan.
To address the issue, the presidency put out a tweet at the weekend, explaining that President Buhari did not go to the Eko Atlantic City to commission it. It said it was just a tour of the project. It explained that the tape cutting exercise was to unveil a plaque to commemorate his visit to the site.
The tweet reads: “President @MBuhari did not commission or launch Eko Atlantic City. His visit was a tour, as part of his 2-day Official Visit to Lagos State, and the plaque he unveiled was to commemorate the visit to the site”
2. Naomi Campbell, invited or just passing by?
Just before the commissioning controversy started, the president had to battle with his photo appearance with British model and actress, Naomi Campbell. Campbell had to delete a tweet in which she confirmed that she was invited to join the tour by President Buhari.
Nigerians had blasted the president, wondering what role the model was invited to perform. The presidency however explained that Campbell simply “bumped” into the president as she was actually in Nigeria for the Arise Fashion Week.
Campbell also changed her position by tweeting this:
3. President Buhari commissioned an ultra-modern bus terminal, not ultra-modern bus stop!
Buhari’s first assignment in Lagos was to commission the ultra-modern Ikeja Bus Terminal built by the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
While the president was doing that, reports suggested he was dragged from Abuja to Lagos to commission what was actually a bus stop, 34 years after he, as military Head of State, cancelled a metro-line project initiated during the Lateef Jakande administration in the state.
4. Another commemorative award “not actually” from Martin Luther King Centre
While President Buhari was making his way to Ikeja to commission the ultra-modern bus terminal, it was brought to his notice that the word on the streets of Lagos was that the award given to him by the Martin Luther King Jnr family was not authentic.
The King Centre, that Thursday morning, came out to deny giving Buhari any award on behalf of the centre or the King’s family.
The presidency had on Tuesday, circulated pictures showing that the family of late American Civil Rights activist visited Buhari at the presidential villa. The presidency also revealed that Buhari received “the 1st Black History Month National Black Excellence and Exceptional African Leadership Award 2018” from the visitors.
The president’s senior special assistant on foreign affairs and diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, had to take time off the presidential train to explain the controversy. She admitted that the award was not given on behalf of the King Centre, but explained that what was given to the president was just a “commemorative plaque” presented by Naomi Barbara King, a matriarch of the King family, in her personal capacity and not on behalf of The King Centre.
5. Lagosians were angry because he visited
Lagosians who would have cared less whether the president was in town or not, showed disgust and anger at the difficulty they were subjected to while the president was in town. Major roads across the state were closed by the security agencies for the sake of presidential movement. Many had to trek long distances to get to their various destinations.
The anger raises questions as to whether Lagosians saw any value in his visit.
6. There seems to be nothing to do in Lagos
President Buhari has been accused of visiting Lagos only to redo what Jonathan had done.
So, why visit if there is nothing new? The Lagos trip was really a stressful amd expensive one for the president. Would he want to go through the stress next time?
The only fun the president probably had in Lagos was at the 66th birthday celebration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.