President Muhammadu Buhari and the lazy Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode yesterday evaded the notorious Lagos – Badagry – Seme Road, by flying instead on an aircraft to Seme for the official handover of the new Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS], border post at Seme, near Badagry to the President and his Republic of Benin counterpart, Patrice Talon.
The President, accompanied by the dislike Ambode and other officials, touched down on a Nigerian Air Force helicopter around 11:25 a.m. The symbolism of his mode of transportation was, however, not lost on some residents who expressed disappointment at his alleged refusal to travel by road and experience their painful reality.
The road, a major artery in West Africa’s largest economic hub, Lagos State, has been notorious for its decades of neglect by the Federal Government and half-hearted rehabilitation.
At the event, a traditional ruler, Akran of Badagry, Aholu Menu Toyi I, described the road as an embarrassment, saying: “We are appealing to our amiable president to, as a matter of urgency, start reconstruction of the road. As a father of all traditional rulers in Badagry Division, I have written a request to President Buhari on the repair of the road and I’m hopeful that he will read it.”
Also, the Aholu of Kweme Kingdom, Badagry, Oba Sejiro Olalekan, said it would have been better appreciated had the president come by road to see what Badagry indigenes were passing through.
“You cannot build this kind of gigantic building here and our roads will not be in order. Seme is the most lucrative border we have but the road leading to Badagry and Seme is bad. We spent more than four to five hours coming from Lagos to Badagry, which is supposed to be 45 minutes. We are pleading that our president would look into major roads leading to the gigantic building. This road is our major concern now,” he said.
On his part, the Ajagun of Imeke Kingdom, Oba Abraham Olatunji, urged the president to treat the reconstruction as a matter of urgency. According to him, “The country is generating a lot of revenue here, so we should be compensated with the road. We the host communities are not benefitting without the road.”
A clearing agent at Seme, Lekan Hassan, said: “We are disappointed that Mr. President could not come by road and seize the opportunity to assess the state of the roads. This is an international route. But it is so embarrassing that Nigeria, as the giant of Africa, could have such a road leading to its border when our neighbouring country has about a 10-lane dual-carriageway in Cotonou.”
One importer, John Osanga, said despite the commissioning of the border post, trade inflow would face difficulties if the road remains in disrepair. Its deplorable state has contributed largely to the high cost of importation through the Seme border, he said.
Badagry expressway, starting from Mile2 through Alakija, Ojo Barracks, Okoko and Okokomaiko has been so bad beyond human comprehension.
The border that was financed by the European Commission [EU] has been completed and the handing over delayed due to late payment to the Togolese Contractor that had made it difficult in the last five years hindered free flow of travellers and goods across the borders.
Also in attendance was ECOWAS President Mr Jean Claude Kessi Brou.