President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday evaded the notorious Lagos-Badagry-Seme Road, opting instead to fly on an aircraft to Seme for the official handover of the new Economic Community of West African States border posts in Badagry to his Republic of Benin counterpart, Patrice Talon.
Buhari, accompanied by Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and other officials, touched down on a Nigerian Air Force helicopter around 11:25 a.m. for the event.
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, Guardian writes.
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.
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. According to him, its deplorable state has contributed largely to the high cost of importation through the Seme border.
Buhari meanwhile pledged that Nigeria would work closely with the Republic of Benin to ensure the success of the border post.
He described the project, aimed at enhancing the free movement of persons and goods in the region, as “a symbol of integration that brings together the peoples of Nigeria and Benin.”