Aside being the commercial and economic nerve center of Nigeria, Lagos is famously referred to as the ‘Center of Excellence’. The appellation is derived from the resourcefulness and entrepreneurial disposition of Lagosians (Lagos residents) who possess enormous capacity for astute exploits in diverse sphere of human endeavours. The fastest growing mega city in Africa, Lagos is home to Nigeria’s highly-skilled workforce in oil, banking and finance, law, IT, telecommunications and entertainment industries. Lagos has had a fair share of visionary and pro-active governors whose amazing mental power has propelled the infrastructure development of the city-state. This is partly responsible for its rising profile as a pace-setting state. Indeed, of late, the Lagos public governance model has become a replica for many other states in the country. Specifically, strategic improvement in waste collection, revenue enhancement, outdoor advertisement regulation, public-private partnership model, among others, has helped to further consolidate Lagos’ status as the nation’s cutting edge state.
It is in a bid to continue with the Lagos tradition of excellence that the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode administration recently organised the One Lagos Fiesta to sign off Year 2015. The annual Lagos Countdown, an event with which the State Government ushers in the New Year, has always been an exhilarating affair. The 2015 edition clearly lived up to the tradition as the euphoria created by the event is yet to wane, and justifiably so.
The scope of the annual event was expanded from a single location event at the Lagos Bar Beach to hold concurrently in the five major divisions of the State. Thus, fun seeking Lagosians gathered at Agege, Epe, Badagry, Ikorodu and Lagos Island for the annual countdown event which took place simultaneously at the locations and was beamed live to a global audience. The idea is to ensure that every part of the state was given the opportunity to have a taste of the enlivening experience. It is in fulfillment 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 Fiesta 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’. Without a doubt, the necessity for unity in such a cosmopolitan city as Lagos cannot be overemphasized.
One distinguishing feature of the 2015 edition of the Lagos Countdown was the deep involvement of the private sector. In order to reflect the thinking of the current administration in the state, the 5 –day long event had sufficient private sector concern. It is a reflection of 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.
It has been realised by governments world-wide that funding of all government programmes and projects can no longer be sustained by the government alone as evidenced in the global economic recession and decline in oil revenue. Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is a financial module designed to attract private investors to engage in infrastructural projects with short and long term benefits to the people. 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.
For the five days that the Fiesta lasted, Globacom’s pavilions in all the five locations became hubs of entertainment for fun-seeking Lagosians. The Glo stands featured facilities for all manner of games such as snookers, table soccer, spot-kicks, and video games. There were also Karaoke Nights, which enabled Lagosians to try out their singing talent and win freebies; Comedy Night, which featured some of the most popular comedians in Nigeria; Celebrity Night, during which some of Nigeria’s most famous stars interfaced with their fans. The participation of Globacom and other corporate sponsors, undoubtedly, turned the fiesta into a massive entertainment project, whose memory will be cherished by many Lagosians for a long time.
One of the major takeaways of the Fiesta was its near perfect security arrangement. That such a massive event was held across five different locations in the state without any security breach is a reflection of the good work the state government is doing to stabilize security in the state. From the outset, the vision of the Akinwunmi Ambode administration is to make Lagos State 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 secured 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 Lagos State Government in the previous year 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 secured Lagos where investors get adequate returns on their investments.
The One Lagos Fiesta equally provided a boost for the tourism and entertainment industries in Lagos. The two industries, no doubt, received a substantial impetus for growth as a result of high demand for related services and products during and after the event. With over 50 local artistes on hand to perform at the event, both rising and established artistes were availed the platform to up their act and directly connect with their fans. This has helped a lot of them to perk up their fan base. Indeed, some new artistes that were discovered prior to the main event were given the opportunity share the stage with renowned stars such as D’banj, Olamide, Don Jazzy and a host of others. Similarly, entertainment spots that were close to the locations of the event actually catch in to make better business. It is the firm conviction of the state government that its strategic investments in entertainment infrastructure will help deepens the hold of Lagos on the sector. The ultimate objective is for entertainment to help drive the much desired alternative economy in tourism and hospitality.
Like Oliver Twists, some Lagosians are already making a case for the transformation of the One Lagos Fiesta from its current annual status to a more regular affair. Towards this end, they are advocating that the State government takes advantage of other festive periods such as Easter, Eidul-Fitr, and Eidul-Kabeer, among others, to further provide a boost for the tourism and entertainment industries in the State. Whether the state government accedes to this request or not, the avowal has already been made that Lagos residents entirely identify with the spirit of the One Lagos Fiesta.
Ogunbiyi is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.