The National Stadium at Surulere in Lagos is experiencing a new wind as the proposed visit of President Muhammad Buhari has suddenly changed the business plans of business owners and occupants of the various outlets inside the Stadium subjecting them to vacate their places of business ahead of the president’s visit .
PMB is expected to pay a visit on Saturday 9th of February 2019 to Lagos, where he is expected to campaign at the Teslim Balogun Stadium but occupants at the National Stadium which is opposite the Teslim Balogun Stadium are already suffering the heat as the Stadium has been shut down since Monday 4th February, 2019 ahead of his arrival.
A security operative whose identity was not disclosed told Sports Intelligence Magazine (simag.com.ng) that the decision to keep the stadium locked became necessary as this was to ensure that hoodlums and anti-APC members do not seek refuge inside the national stadium and cause chaos ahead of the president’s visit.
However, life at the National Stadium in Surulere Lagos has suddenly become miserable for business owners as they are already counting their losses ahead of the 2019 election which comes up in less than 10 days from the date of this publication.
A sports equipment shop owner who spoke with this writer on grounds of anonymity simply said “This is the first of its kind, we have never felt it this way before and we hope such dilemma never happens in our life again because of election”. ” We have witnessed several elections since 1999, but it has never been tough like this”.
Sports Intelligence Magazine (simag.com.ng) crew who went round the stadium, to see the state of things confirmed that shops were practically locked, and business owners were subjected to accepting the fact that owning a business inside the stadium is tantamount to going on a compulsory one-week holiday due to the Presidient Buhari’s campaign visit to Lagos.
However, Staffs of the National Institute for Sports, Nigeria Olympic Committee and members of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria Lagos Chapter were allowed inside the stadium upon identification via the Chioma Ajunwa gate, but life was still miserable without the presence of other business owners who made life easy for them.
A staff of NIS who spoke with this writer on grounds of anonymity said: ” What is the need of actually allowing us into the stadium after identification, we cannot buy food, water, drink or even air time because those who deal in these businesses have been banned from entering the stadium does that really make any sense.
Furthermore, the staff who spoke to this writer revealed that the security operatives put in place expects everyone to vacate the stadium by 4:30pm as they go around to send those of us who are even staffs out before the time and if for anything you do not leave the Stadium, it may be locked and you end up sleeping inside.
“If anyone stays in the Stadium from 4:30pm, the person is most likely going to be locked inside the Stadium” one lady told this writer. “It is quite unfortunate that this is coming from a president who promised us change in his first tenure and its even worse that he is looking up to get our votes after inflicting this hardship she added.
Notable hangouts joints inside the National Stadium such as OJEZ and Old Skool were not spared in this unplanned “exodus journey” as our visit clearly showed that these joints were permanently sealed, awaiting the supposed “triumphant visit” of President Muhammadu Buhari which has already inflicted pains on these business owners.
A veteran Sports Journalist who spoke with this writer on the ongoing crises at the national stadium described the incident as “An eye-opener to those who run their businesses around government owned establishment, he further stated stated that “they (business owners) should know that Nigerian government can wake up at any time and inflict obnoxious policies on them.”
Two legal professionals who were contacted to speak on the legalities of the action of the presidency looked at it from different perspective. While one who simply introduced himself as Segun described the act as unconstitutional and a gross violation of the rights of the shop owners, another who simply identified himself as James said the decision was necessary going by the fact that Lagos has always been peaceful and it was necessary adequate measures were put in place to avoid any unforeseen circumstances that may lead to chaos in Lagos.