The Lagos State Government has criticised London-based weekly newspaper, The Economist, over a scathing report it published about Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode. The newspaper had said in its report titled, ‘Why Nigeria’s largest city is even less navigable than usual’, that Ambode had failed to consolidate on the gains of his predecessor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.
It added that Ambode was full of excuses but little solutions to the traffic congestion and robberies in the state. It also said Ambode’s ‘lenient’ method of traffic enforcement had engendered impunity on the roads. However, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, said in a statement that the people of Lagos deserved to be treated with respect rather than being harassed by overzealous law enforcement agents.
He said since motorists in London were treated with respect by law enforcement agents, it was hypocritical of the newspaper to demand that Lagosians be treated ruthlessly. Ayorinde argued that the report was sponsored by some elements in the opposition who had yet to come to terms with the defeat they suffered in the last election. The statement read in part:
“The said article has since gained frenetic, orchestrated spread in both social and traditional media in Nigeria, helped in part, ostensibly, by a push from a recalcitrant legion of traducers still struggling with the reality of a new helmsman whose idea of progress in Lagos State factors in electoral promises and respect for human dignity.”
He also questioned the agenda of the 172-year-old newspaper and other Nigerian newspapers that published the report. He added:
“If we excuse the fact that the offensive article in The Economist came out last weekend just about the time that Lagos State Government added some bite to its security and traffic management efforts, what shall we call the curious ‘culling’ of the said article by some local media?”
Ayorinde questioned the integrity of the newspaper for not berating the traffic officials that were deliberately frustrating the efforts of the governor. He added:
“That The Economist sees nothing wrong in recalcitrant officers refusing to carry out a directive by their employer is as surprising as it is shameful. Shockingly still, the veil finally came off this curious article when it states that by choosing a compassionate approach to enforcement, Governor Ambode is less competent and has deviated from his predecessor’s template.”