By Ayo Afuwape
Glitziness, Pageantry and vibes are some of the unique features of Lagos State. This is expectedly so, perhaps, because of the position of the State as the entertainment hub of Africa. The vibrancy and vibes of the State came into full expression at the just concluded Lagos @ 50 celebration where the various activities put together to celebrate the golden jubilee of the State created on the 27th of May, 1967 was the centre of attraction throughout the entire period.
The just concluded roadmap activities for the celebration of the State’s Golden Jubilee started with the simulation of the Three Wise Men of Lagos ‘Agbagba Meta” across the metropolis through several entertaining and educative shows and talks to the May 28th – 29th concerts, featuring new, old and legend musical artists. The concerts came to a climax at the wee hour of May 29th with astonishing fireworks. All these activities have not only created a brand for Lagos but have further drew attention of the international community to the Centre of Excellence and reaffirmed the State’s position as the entertainment hub of the continent.
To a cheeky lay man, the celebration was nothing but a show of glamour in line with the ‘Eko for show’ signature of Lagos. But then, beyond the glamorous depiction of the State, the golden jubilee celebration presented a golden opportunity to open up, strengthen and cement diverse economic relationships with other states and indeed the world at large.
The Governor had said that in the midst of the celebration lies the journey to lay a template that would make the future better than today, adding that important new chapter containing fresh pages of politics, development and renewed economic reengineering in Lagos state begins.
The State has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. The future promises even greater advancement as Lagos works with focus towards becoming a smart city, commercial and industrial hub of sub-Saharan Africa.
At the first census in 1871, the city was home to just over 28,000 people; by 1952, the population stood at over 252,000. In the 1970s, estimates ranged widely from near 600,000 to 1,500,000. These figures are not necessarily accurate, but show the phenomenal growth of the State over the years. Lagos presently has over 20 million residents.
There were no train services in the city, the closest train station was at Ìddó, on the bridgehead to the island. The automobile is thus the best means by which to get to the city. There were no traffic tailbacks, or “go slow” in Nigerian popular language. Commercial vehicles, both buses and taxicabs, were available in reasonable number. Parking spaces were not so difficult to find.
In Lagos of 1960s, the number of private cars increased to 8,800 licensed across the city; between 1970 and 1974, over 42,000 cars were registered. In 1985, nearly 20,000 minibuses, 6,000 midi-buses, and 30,000 taxis were estimated to run in metropolitan Lagos. Some high-rising structures present across the State now were nowhere to be found in the 60s. Organized commercial sightseeing tours of the city were rare, yet the island is full of historical sites. A major monument then was the Iga Ìdúngànràn, official residence of the Oba of Lagos on Upper King Street and the Old Secretariat, built in 1906 to house colonial offices.
With what is presently on ground in the State, it is an unarguable fact that Lagos has actually come of age with arrays of developmental strides littered all across the metropolis. How the State has managed to navigate through all these, considering the daunting pressure put on its infrastructures by its overly and increasing population is a big surprise to many.
While many are so concerned with the financial implication which the celebration might gulp from the State Government, little attention is paid to the gains of the celebration. To a greater extent, the celebration has succeeded in drawing the attention of international communities to the State more than before. It is gratifying to report that what the state government spent on the anniversary was essentially realized from sponsors who supported the venture.
The boom experience by the economy during this period was another milestone. The economy of the State within this period witnessed significant boost as owners of small and medium scale enterprises recorded reasonable patronage, makers of the Eyo fabrics also experienced sales boom while owners of hotels, guest houses just to mention a few were not left out. Same goes for those in the entertainment industry in Lagos State.
Drawing notes from several criticisms that greeted the decision of the State Government to roll out drums to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, it will be instructive to say that the celebration apart from boosting the economy, also provided a platform for promoting and preserving the future of Lagos with an articulated look and foray into Lagos in the next fifty years.
Knowing that no place can succeed without adequate information of where it’s coming from (history), the celebration also dwelt extensively on the rich historical background of the state. Although the gains of these may not be readily quantified in monetary term, the Lagos at 50 celebrations provided an avenue for the documentation of some very useful information about Lagos State for posterity.
The current administration in the state is convinced that arts, entertainment and tourism as well as sports are veritable areas for job creation and youth engagement. This explains the massive investment of the State Government in the sector while also not neglecting other critical sectors too.
This passion, hinged on the acronym; ‘THESE’ (Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Sports for Excellence) was reaffirmed throughout the Jubilee celebration period. The Government is leveraging on the potency of ‘THESE’ as a vehicle that would bring about the much expected development across key sectors of the economy. Indeed, there abounds vast economic opportunities in entertainment, tourism and arts sectors that can boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the State and produce creative talents of international repute.
With the current economic situation of the country, the pursuit of T.H.E.S.E. has become an urgent necessity. Before now, Lagos has played host to a number of high-rated entertainment events. An evening of jazz in commemoration of 2016 International Jazz Day was hosted by the State Governor, the state government also played host to the 2016 AFRIMA as well as the maiden Lagos Street Party held last year while Lagos also recorded a remarkable showing at the 2016 edition of Nottingham and Toronto Carnivals.
Governor Ambode’s tenacity in the advancement of T.H.E.S.E. is a reflection of his massive passion for the arts. Till date, the governor remains a major rallying point for both established and budding national entertainers.
Lagosians are urged to be expectant as the positives of the celebration in no time will become more evident for all.
Afuwape is of the Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja