One of the most consistent campaign promises of Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, was to ensure that Lagos becomes the arts and culture hub of Africa. The vehicle through which he hopes to achieve this is T.H.E.S.E. which is an acronym for Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Sporting Excellence. With the country’s desire to open up her economy and diversify from a solely oil based economy, the pursuit of T.H.E.S.E. is, indeed, a strategic platform for the much needed economic diversification. Since his assumption in office, Governor Ambode has left no one in doubt about his resolve to grow the Lagos economy and empower the youth through several alternative means which include the tactical promotion of tourism, entertainment, sports, art and culture.
Therefore, at the inception of his administration, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode realized that to achieve a monumental breakthrough in societal civilization, the value of the socio-cultural identity of the people must be accorded reference, thereby availing government the abundant of human and natural resources needed for socio- economic progress.
To this end, the State government has shown extensive admiration for people oriented programs with series of concert and festivals used to tell the beautiful story of the city and rekindle the affection of nobleness and companionship that the city was founded upon. This desire by the Governor is recreating a connection between the people and certain social values, beliefs, religions and customs.
Lagos is often painted as a land of long history and culture, where hard work triumph, economic opportunities bountiful and with a great interest in arts and entertainment. The State is a microscopic representation of the country at large, a melting point of diverse culture and tradition where every tribe in Nigeria has a face.
The eventful anniversary celebration of the City’s 50 years of creation themed ‘enhanced the heritage, advance the future’ vividly captured the rich cultural diversity that has accompanied the State through its journey. Series of musical concerts were used to usher the people into the one year celebration, Waaka, the Evening Jazz, Jazz meets Fashion, Kakadu, the Musical, Fela Concert among others were used to present the beautiful story of the city using different genres of music.
Consequently, several festivals and art performances were staged at different locations of the city to convey the struggle and triumph of the state in the past five decades to the entire world. The Lagos Carnival held during this period symbolized the diversity in Lagos culture where beautiful costumes and various entertainments went on rampage. The Carnival portrays an extensive mixture of Nigerian, Brazilian and Cuban heritage present in the State. The Eyo (Adamu Orisha) festival, which historically has an intrinsic relevance in the prosperity of the people’s endeavors, was also invoked to convey the value of Lagos culture.
On the strength of its international outlook, the State was celebrated at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival where eight films from the city were shown on the global scene. Lagos is the first African city to command such respect. This affirmed that the international community understands and appreciates the beauty and the prosperity inherent in the State’s creative industry.
More so, the One Lagos Fiesta initiative has greatly influenced the entertainment and creative industry of the country, projecting the State as a symbol of class and panacea. Since its inception in 2015, the fiesta has been the most anticipated show in the State because of its scope and contents that have continue to accommodate ingenuity that serves Lagosians. The fiesta has metamorphosed to become the largest musical concert in the Sub-Saharan African, commanding over 50 renowned Musical Artists.
In spite of its economic and political affluence, the government has bestowed keen interest on the culture and relevance of its people by committing to the preservation and extension of its value. The annual Boat Regatta, a festival common to the traditional coastline communities in the State has garnered a significant reputation with its amazing display of cultural vitality on water. The event has continued to highlight the State’s aquatic splendors and promotes the relevance of the custom and tradition of riverine dwellers.
Also, the Lagos Street Carnival held along the stretch of Oba Akran Road in Ikeja early December of 2017 typified the premium placed on the identity and customs of different ethnicity and religion in the State. The event was a parade of colors where diverse people in different attires showcased the uniqueness in their identity to the entire world thereby creating an impression that Lagos remains the theatre of entertainment in Africa.
The State government is facilitating people oriented programs through Public Private Partnership that will advance the provision of excellent infrastructure for the hospitality industry, opens the State for economic progress and create a rewarding atmosphere for corporate organizations.
In the past three years, the State has supported a broadband of privately driven Concert and Festivals by providing institutional mechanism that meets the purpose; one of such is the maiden edition of the Nigeria Beer Festival, the largest beer gathering in the country. The experience of the one-week entertainment festival created immense opportunities for Lagosians with a large turnout of diplomatic community in the country and Neighboring West African region.
More so, the hosting of the 2017 annual Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) by the State government where the best of African movie stars, directors, producers, various foreign media houses and production companies appreciated the irresistible narratives of the history, the people and the positive development across the State.
The Lagos City Suya Carnival is another world record event staged to redefine and celebrate the essence of the universal delicacy. The idea of the edible-oriented carnival was to promote tourism using Suya, a mainstream delicacy to exhibit the good culture, food and opportunities locked in the metropolis. The feast broke the Guinness Book of Record of the longest Suya steak with the production of a single 50ft suya.
Similarly, the endorsement of Olamide’s concert by the State government captures the ambience of freedom the state has propelled in advancing creativity and unearths the enormous potentials in the entertainment industry. These and many others enchanting events is what has made the city a global phenomena.
The initiative and the vision of the Lagos State government to establish an open door opportunity to prosperity through tourism and entertainment is revolutionizing the economic and socio-cultural structure of the state. However, the impact of this is not farfetched when you consider the upsurge of local and international investors trooping into the State and ready to explore the avalanche of business opportunities identified during their tourism expedition.
By providing ample avenue for both small and medium scale enterprises to thrive and creating platforms for multinational companies to find their feet, the government is expanding the economic horizon of the State and the nation at large, thereby moving the State along the path of sustainable prosperity.
Akinfenwa is of the Lagos State Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja