In contrast to Napoleon Bonaparte, who once said that “the best way to keep one’s word is not to give it”, an uncompromising penchant for keeping his word has become the trade mark of Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.
One of his campaign promises was to ensure that Lagos becomes the tourism and entertainment hub of Africa. This he hopes to achieve through T.H.E.S.E. which is an acronym for Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Sporting Excellence. With the current economic downturns in the country, the pursuit of T.H.E.S.E. has become an urgent necessity. Hence, 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 and sports.
Consequently, Lagos has played host to a number of A rated entertainment events. One of such is an evening of Jazz which the Governor hosted in commemoration of 2016 International Jazz Day. Equally, the City of Lagos beat other major African cities to the hosting right of 2016 AFRIMA. Similarly, a maiden Lagos Street Party was held in 2016 while Lagos also recorded a remarkable showing at the 2016 edition of Nottingham and Toronto Carnivals. At the Toronto Carnival in particular, eight films by Lagos State-based filmmakers were selected for red-carpet premieres and screenings. Think of the mileage that this gives to Lagos and all the filmmakers not only in terms of publicity but business opportunities and exposure on such massive global platform.
Governor Ambode’s tenacity in the advancement of T.H.E.S.E is a reflection of his massive passion for the arts. It will be recollected that during the campaign, music in particular, played a major role in the campaign train that brought the Governor into office. There were quite a number of artistes who were referred to as ‘Ambode ambassadors’, who supported his aspirations and dreams, which assisted him in giving the best communication campaign ever that would see a Governor winning an election in Nigeria. Till date, the Governor remains a major rally point for both established and budding national entertainers.
In a bid to really concretize the plan to transform Lagos into an entertainment nucleus, in 2015 the Ambode administration expanded the scope of the annual Lagos Countdown, an event with which the State Government ushers in the New Year. Now renamed One Lagos Fiesta, OLF, the 2016 eight day fiesta with the slogan: ‘Back, Better and Bold’, clearly lived up to expectations.
As it was the case in 2015, the event held concurrently across the five major divisions of the state viz- a -viz at Agege, Epe, Badagry, Ikorodu and Lagos Island. The plan is to guarantee that every part of the state was given the opportunity to have a taste of the stimulating experience. It is in further accomplishment of Governor Ambode’s pledge to run an all inclusive government in which every segment of the society is not left out in the scheme of things. Indeed, one of the core objectives of the OLF was to foster unity among all classes and groups of people in Lagos. This is quite imperative in view of the multi-ethnic and mixed religion character of Lagos which has made the metropolis to be termed a ‘mini Nigeria’. Certainly, the inevitability for unity in such a multi-ethnic metropolis as Lagos cannot be overstressed.
A major unique trait of the 2016 edition of OLF was the profound participation of the private sector. This is a deliberate strategy by the state government to fully involve the private sector in the grand scheme to make Lagos the destination of choice for diverse people across the world. In doing this, the state government is just toeing a well established and rewarding universal path. In adopting this strategy, government is not abdicating its responsibilities but essentially releasing scarce resources for other equally important projects thus creating a win-win situation for the government and the private enterprise as well. The participation of corporate sponsors such as GLO, NBL, MIKANO and others helped turn the fiesta into a massive entertainment project, whose memory will be cherished by many Lagosians for a long time.
One other key highlight of the Fiesta was its impeccable security arrangement. That such a massive event was held across five different locations in the state with the massive turnouts was without any security breach, is a reflection of the impact of the state government’s massive investment in public security. From the outset, the vision of the Ambode administration is to make Lagos Africa’s Model Megacity and Global Economic and Financial Hub. This can only become a reality if every minute of the 24 hours in a day could be properly harnessed in a secure and safer environment. This explains why most cities that operate 24/7 economy place immense emphasis on getting the security right. A major defining act of the state government since June 2015 is the strengthening of security mechanism in the state through the purchase and deployment of surveillance helicopters, utility and operational vehicles, power bikes, armoured tanks and others worth billions of naira to the State Police Command. Till date, the Governor and his team are not looking back in the onerous task of ensuring a safe and secure Lagos where investors get adequate returns on their investments.
The 2016 OLF further provided a boost for the attainment of T.H.E.S.E. in the state as the entertainment and tourism sectors received extensive momentum for growth courtesy high demand for related services and products during and after the event. Entertainment spots that were close to the locations of the event actually catch in on its economic momentum. In terms of empowerment, the event created over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs for diverse professionals who were engaged in sundry aspects such as publicity, lightening, engineering, decoration, carpentry, welding, painting, catering etc.
Similarly, with over 50 local artistes on hand to perform, both budding and established artistes were availed the platform to up their act and directly connect with their fans. This has helped them to perk up their fan base. Indeed, some new artistes that were discovered prior to the main event were given the opportunity to share the stage with renowned stars such as King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Queen Salawa Abeni, Dr. Adewale Ayuba, Sir. Sina Peters, Harunna Ishola Jnr, Tiwa Savage, Phyno, Falz, Olamide, Dr. Sid, Olu maintain, Big Sheff and a host of others.
Now, what does 2017 holds for T.H.E.S.E? 2017, no doubt, would further provide a huge boost for the promotion of Ambode administration’s T.H.E.S.E. policy thrust. With the impending Golden Jubilee anniversary of the state, later this year, the art, entertainment, tourism and other such related sectors are, once again, certainly in for a great deal. This, indeed, is the whole essence of T.H.E.S.E.
Adeyemi is Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.