The Lagos Mainland once more gained global attention yesterday, Wednesday, July 3, 2018, as the Lagos State Government hosted the French President, Emmanuel Macron, to a night of spectacle at the New Afrikan Shrine, Ikeja, Lagos Mainland.
Not only did the visit treat the French President to good music, arts and multitude of talents that abound on the Mainland, he was also opportune to meet leading entertainment figures drawn from across the Nigerian entertainment industry.
The visit of the highly respected global leader to Lagos Mainland few weeks after supermodel, Naomi Campbell visited Ikorodu community and other past visits by world figures such as Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, John Boyega, Richard Quest and J.Cole among several others approves the notion that Lagos Mainland as the capacity and facilities to attract global leaders.
Not only did the visit interest popular figures across the country, quite a number of Nigerian celebrities, business owners and residents were ecstatic about the turnout of the historic event.
Meanwhile, Macron while speaking at the event recalled his days in Nigeria about 15 years ago, saying it was an emotional come-back, especially as he never imagined he would return to Abuja one day as President of France.
Describing the New African Shrine as an iconic place for African people and culture, he said; “First, because I wanted to find a good occasion to come back there. I know the place and I have some memories. I have to confess at a time that there was no president around. I hope I will not spoil the party.”
He added that: “I think that is such an iconic place for a lot of African people and African culture. And I think very often when you speak of the African culture in Europe, those who are successful in Europe and in France, which is different most of the times are not dramatically very famous in Nigeria or in Africa. And there is a bias because you know people are absolutely not the same.”
In preparation for the visit of Macron to the New Afrikan Shrine, not only did the government adorn the venue with visually appealing designs, residents of the area would also be thankful as roads leading to the event venue were fixed few hours to the start of the event.
This development drew mixed reactions from social media users with a few users praising the government for leaving no stone unturned towards ensuring the French President had a memorable experience during his visit.
Although the government had earlier announced a road closure around the New African Shrine, Alausa, Agidingbi and some parts of Ikeja linking the event venue, little did residents and motorists know that they would spend a large part of their day in traffic.
For motorists along Kudirat Abiola Way, Allen Avenue, Opebi, Toyin and Obafemi Awolowo Way, the traffic gridlock experienced as a result of the road closure is better told than experienced.
Commenting on this, a taxi driver identified simply as Baba Ajasa said he concluded that the day was not his after he was caught in the heavy gridlock along Kudirat Abiola Way. “My initial plan was to work for few hours ahead of the arrival of the President then park for a few hours to continue later at night,” he said.
“The plan couldn’t manifest because the traffic along Kudirat Abiola Way all the way to Allen was unbearable. I spent too much time in the traffic before coming down here to rest,” he added.
While residents and motorists groan on the road closure, traders in Ikeja, the heart of Lagos Mainland, were not left out due to the instant impact the visit had on their various businesses.
While the highly respected guest, Macron, was still in Abuja for a State House Visit, the traders in Ikeja were instructed by the government to close early while security operatives were evident at different sections of Ikeja, Allen, Opebi, Alausa and environs. Also, operatives of the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps (LAGESC) were deployed as their Black Maria was parked at the popular under bridge, Ikeja. This InsideMainland gathered was necessary as the government was unprepared to take chances for the visit of the French President.
The instruction by the government, however, yielded the needed results as the traders locked up leaving for their respective homes earlier than expected. As early as 2:00 pm, the area became deserted as trading activities was brought to a halt. At about 6:00 pm, the usually busy market was in a shadow of itself and anyone not familiar with the area could take it for a busy market.
Speaking on the development, a trader, Ebele Augustine told InsideMainland that he was surprised when he was informed about the notice to close their shops early. “I didn’t expect the visit one person to turn into what would affect the lives of hundreds of others who survive based on what they make daily from here,” he said.
“I know how much I make daily especially towards the end of the day and during rush hours. I have no option than to obey the notice to avoid being persecuted for no just cause. I only feel we can do things better than the present,” Augustine added.
Corroborating Augustine, a food vendor, Mrs. Onafowokan told InsideMainland that “we have accepted that we would make less sales today since people who buy from us in the market have had to close early. There is no point preparing so much food when those that would buy had been instructed to close early for the visit.”