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LAGOS’ NEW DEAL FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY

Bolaji Odumade

Lagos has always been Nigeria’s entertainment hub. Most of the nation’s renowned entertainers literarily cut their teeth in Lagos. Many iconic and world famous Nigerian artistes such as late Bobby Benson, Victor Olaiya, late Fatai Rolling Dollar, Moses Olaiya aka Baba Sala, Ebenezer Obey, King Sunny Ade, late Ade love, Sir Shina Peters, Tu Face, late Dagrin, Olamide to mention but a few developed and fulfill their show biz potentials through the platform provided by the entertainment friendly Lagos. Music, arts, theater and all forms of entertainments thrive readily in Lagos basically because of its massive population which helps ensure that every artiste in the City State has his/her own fan base, as well as immeasurable market to explore.

Without a doubt, Lagos is endowed with both human and material resources.  From the colonial era till date, Lagos remains Nigeria’s and, indeed, West Africa’s business hub. As Lagos population increases, so is the demand for employment, food and entertainment. Entertainment business got a great boost with the emergence of National Art Theatre, Cinema houses, hotels, bars and other facilities that provide conducive environment for entertainment related activities to flourish. Demand for quality entertainment has always been on steady increase, despite the hustling lifestyle of the typical Lagosian. The profundity of night activities in Lagos clearly reinforces Lagosians’ massive attraction for entertainment. Today, as Nigerians grapple with economic hassles and its attendant diverse complications, entertainment gamely offers great relief for many.

It is important to highlight the job creation potentials of the entertainment industry. Of late, many have been frustrated by their inability to secure employment from top rated blue chip firms. But it is important to stress that the entertainment sector has now moved from its hitherto recreational status to becoming a huge source of employment. Diverse professionals ranging from fashion designers, lightening and electrical engineers, dancers, voice trainers, make- up artistes, script writers, producers, directors, stage designers and artiste managers among many others are now gainfully employed through the limitless possibilities offered by the sector.

It is, therefore, not surprising that the Lagos state government is keenly interested in the business of entertainment, considering its numerous benefits.  Since the coming on board of the current administration in Lagos State, the entertainment sector Lagos has received remarkable impetus.

This is not by any means accidental. The current administration in Lagos has from the outset set to promote entertainment and such related human enterprises through a well thought out program called T.H.E.S.E. which is an acronym for Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Sporting Excellence. With the current economic downturns in the country, it is the conviction of the state government that the pursuit of T.H.E.S.E. has become an urgent necessity. In view of the numerous employment potentials of the industry, the pursuit of T.H.E.S.E. by the state government is certainly a shrewd choice.

To further fully optimize the potentials of the sector in the state, the state government plans to construct an Art Theatre and a Cinema in Igando and also build five new amphitheatres  in Ikorodu, Ikeja, Lagos Mainland, Badagry and Epe in 2017. The main objective is to give greater opportunities to youths that are creatively inclined to fulfill their dreams. Similarly, the state government is prepared to assist uniquely creative talents in the state to access needed fund through the N25 billion Lagos State Employment Trust Fund.  This much was revealed at the Agege center of the just concluded One Lagos Fiesta by the state Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode. Speaking, especially to the youths at the event, Ambode said: “I want to encourage you to take opportunity of applying for the Employment Trust Fund. We have fund already established to take care of your expertise. We have earmarked over N6billion and we intend to push N1billion to the entertainment sector. So, it is left for all of you to bring out your best. Whatever it is that you are doing, if you can’t get a white collar job, the ETF is there for you to help promote your talent”.

In order to further encourage creative artistes and entertainers in the state to up their acts and become more enterprising, Governor Ambode recently hosted artistes that performed at the just concluded One Lagos Fiesta at his office in Alausa, Ikeja. At the event, Governor Ambode unveiled the state’s plans to leverage on the vast economic opportunities in the entertainment, tourism and arts sectors, to grow its Gross Domestic Product, GPD.  The governor said that “creative industry remained a veritable platform to grow the economy and that government would tap into it.” He further revealed that:“The One Lagos Fiesta is a platform put together by our administration to majorly create awareness about the potentials inherent in the entertainment industry, especially in using it to grow the economy and positively develop talents that abound in the country”.

Ambode further revealed to the artistes that his government remained committed in using the platform of T.H.E.S.E to grow the state’s economy. Part of the plan is to leverage on Lagos massive youth population to promote entertainment.  Statistics has shown that 66 per cent of Lagos population are below the age of 35 and if two third are of below 35, it means there is an economy in that age bracket that government is not seeing. The One Lagos Fiesta was, therefore, used to test-run how to harness the artistic potentials of youths in the state.

It will be recalled that in his inaugural address, Governor Ambode promised to run an all inclusive government where no segment of the society is left behind. This renewed effort to promote the entertainment industry is an integral part of this philosophy. It is hoped that both budding and established entertainers in the state will take full advantage of this new window to further widen their horizon.

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