Fayose’s worst fear coming true


By Azu Ishiekwene

Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has been on been on the rooftop and won’t come down till long after Saturday. He has been screaming, for all the world to hear, that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)
plans to rig this weekend’s governorship election for his arch foe, Kayode Fayemi. From Fayose’s camp, it seems that the APC will not be content to win. The icing on the cake would be to brutalise Fayose, break his neck and present his head on a platter to Aso Rock. Armageddon is the closest metaphor.
As Fayose wept, with a neck brace worn upside down and his left hand in a sling, claiming he had been attacked shortly before his party’s rally in Ado-Ekiti on Wednesday, it would take someone who has eaten the proverbial head of the tortoise not to feel sorry for this drama prince.
According to Fayose, the APC has enlisted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the police, the Department of State Services, and maybe a few stray devils from Libya, to help Fayemi win the vote
by means fair and foul. On Tuesday, he said the result of the governorship election had been written and quoted dodgy figures in two local government councils ostensibly to support his claim.
Even though it is Kolapo Olusola, and not Fayose, that is the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the election, you’ll be forgiven to think that Fayose is in the race. And he might well be.
Whatever the constitution says about term limits, Saturday’s contest between Olusola and Fayemi is a proxy war for Fayose’s third term. He will summon both real and imaginary conspiracies, if not to win the vote, then perhaps to discredit the system and get public sympathy.
His brace and sling are part one of the wretched political game, the costume of a political dramatist.
When Fayose cries wolf about alleged connivance between INEC, security services on the one hand, and Fayemi’s campaign on the other, he’s haunted not only by concerns for a free and fair contest. He is tormented also by prospects that he could be at the receiving end of a system from which he was a principal beneficiary four years ago.
Documented records after the election showed that Abuja robbed the treasury, dragged a major commercial bank into the mess and also put top military and government officials at the disposal of Fayose. The PDP Federal Government left nothing to chance in a desperate effort to ensure victory for its candidate at the time.
It’s probable that Fayose would still have won that contest, partly because of Fayemi’s complacency. But a taped conversation by an insider, Captain Sagir Koli, on how the election was rigged by state agents, revealed that rival party leaders, especially those of the APC, were deliberately subjected to harassment and intimidation on the eve of the election, casting serious doubt on the integrity of the result of the 2014 governorship election.
This history is playing out as a farce, with the APC government deploying more policemen and soldiers in Ekiti in peacetime than we have seen in any of the numerous hotspots begging for attention. After four years of Fayose’s politics of stomach infrastructure, which essentially comprised eating roasted corn by the roadside, eating amala at a market shed, sharing birthday cake on the streets, and supplying petrol to Okada riders from the underground tank in the government house, Fayose ought to have raised enough foot soldiers from the 913,000 registered voters to defend the vote and secure a third term, without faking a broken neck.
If this were a vote for brinkmanship, Fayose’s candidate would gain immeasurably from the hubris of the last four years. When Fayose is not advertising his death wish for President Muhammadu Buhari with state funds, he’s taunting and teasing the Presidency over one policy mishap or the other. He’s been ruthlessly efficient at criticising the Federal Government, insinuating and inflaming public opinion with half-truths often shared on a speed dial.
Now, it has dawned on him that whatever his grouse against Abuja might be – and there are quite a few legitimate ones, like the herders-farmers clashes, for example – his candidate will be judged not by his fans
outside, but by voters in the state that he, Fayose, abandoned in his quest for popularity as the self- assigned lightning rod of the opposition.
His worst nightmare must be what happens next. All the brace, the sling, and the arrow are diversions from his poor record and the fear of what might happen to him once he no longer enjoys immunity. The fear runs deep. It goes as far back as Fayose’s first term when police, SSS and court records linked him to the deaths of Tunde Omojola, Ayo Adaramola and Kehinde Fasuba, whose families have yet to get justice. At home, in Ekiti, where he was re-elected to govern, there’s little evidence that Fayose’s record would save his candidate on Saturday and give him a third term by proxy.
He said, in an interview with The Guardian in March, that education has been his greatest area of achievement. The records do not support his claim. Ekiti is one of the 17 states that has failed to access a N16.2 billion UBEC fund, provided to ease basic education in the states. Instead of accessing the fund, Fayose’s government defaulted on the N850 million counterpart fund loan provided by Access Bank under the previous administration. The government creamed off the interest, estimated at N70 million by two independent sources, and simply continued levying primary and secondary school pupils.
On Fayose’s watch, the state university has been starved of subvention and the nursing school is a shadow of itself. Primary and secondary school teachers are being owed salaries of between six and eight months, while pensioners have not been paid for 11 months. This woeful record casts a shadow on the government’s eager attempt to claim credit for the modest improvements in WASC/NECO school results in the state. Pressed between the rock and the hard place, students may well have taken their fate in their own hands.
If Fayemi lost four years ago because of internal rebellion, his weak grip on a few wayward personal staff and lack of common touch, Ekiti has careened from the elitist Fayemi end of the spectrum to the squalid Fayose end where drama, gimmickry and a personality cult have been elevated to statecraft.
Governance, it seems, has become a joke and it’s doubtful if serious-minded voters would recognise Ekiti as the same land of honour and integrity they used to know.
In this important election over which Olusola has canvassed strong progressive views on education and ICT, I imagine that he would like to be judged, not strictly by Fayose’s standards, but in his own right as a candidate and, inescapably, a joint heir in the legacy of the last four years.
That’s the whole point of elections – for voters to weigh the candidates on the ballot and decide who will get their mandate on the simple question: Is your life better today than it was four years ago?
None of the major contestants in Saturday’s race is a stranger and their backers have not hidden their hands either. If voters allow themselves to be blindsided by the drama on either side, they’ll live with the consequences, perhaps for another four years and the god of the stomach will not save them.

Ishiekwene is the Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief ofThe Interview and member of the board of the Global Editors Network

Democracy and security in Africa depend on Nigeria


By Nancy Lindborg

When Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari met with President Trump on Monday, much attention was paid to the importance of counterterror efforts and economic investments that will help the country continue its climb out of its deep recession.
These are both critical areas for U.S. focus and assistance, but will not ultimately be sufficient to resolve Nigeria’s internal and regional security challenges. With Nigeria’s pivotal 2019 elections looming, the United States’ support for and cooperation with Nigeria must address the root causes of its constant instability and not just the immediate security threats.
It was appropriate that President Buhari was the first sub-Saharan African leader to have an Oval Office visit with President Trump. Nigeria is the largest democracy on the continent and continues to be a bellwether for democracy and good governance across Africa.
It also has the largest economy with a rapidly growing population — half under the age of 30 — that will propel it to become the fourth most populous country in the world by 2050.
It is a key U.S. ally and partner, both economically and in security operations against rising terror threats. In short, it is too big to fail.
The Boko Haram scourge has been well documented as it raged through the three northeastern states of Nigeria. However, a new wave of pastoralist-farmer conflicts are escalating in the Middle Belt of the country and now threaten to touch nearly every state, claiming more lives this year than Boko Haram.
The combination of rising demographic pressures and environmental changes have pitted herders against farmers in a contest for scarce resources that is exacerbated by an infusion of armed criminals who are not bound by traditional conflict resolution methods with an underpowered police force to provide citizen security. This lack of accountability and security is a crippling combination that turns people away from government.
Conflicts roiling within Nigeria’s borders have already spilled into neighboring countries and threaten to undermine not just Nigeria’s security, but the entire region — with implications for global security.
There has been important progress in fighting Boko Haram since the height of their attacks. But just last Friday, the media reported yet another fatal suicide bomb attack in Maiduguri, reminding us that the core grievances and overall allure of Boko Haram remain potent and alive. Military action is important but will not ultimately resolve the Boko Haram threat nor the spreading herder-farmer conflicts.
Without meaningful steps to curb corruption and create a more responsive, inclusive government, inter-communal conflicts, extremism and rising criminality will continue to undermine the progress and potential of this regional giant.
Alongside any U.S. security assistance and economic investments, there must be assistance for strengthening a police force that serves the communities, a judiciary that delivers accountability and both assistance and insistence on peaceful elections, especially as the country gears up for presidential and state elections in February 2019.
Last week in Nigeria, I heard about the important efforts that some of the states are taking to establish better mechanisms for resolving conflicts and I saw many heartening examples of resilient communities who banded together to fight off Boko Haram, solve clashes between pastoralists and farmers and bridge divides, as with the youth and the police.
In the middle-belt Nigerian state of Plateau, I joined an unlikely group of youth, religious and traditional leaders and police officers to celebrate the rebuilding of a police station that had been burned to the ground. In fact, it was burned down two years ago by the very youth now standing side by side with the police, out of their frustration and a deep sense of injustice.
This event was the result of an intensive 18-month dialogue that brought this community together and enabled them to address long simmering grievances, rebuild trust and identify solutions. The police officers were welcomed participants that afternoon, instead of mistrusted opponents. These are powerful stories of the resilience and optimism that exists at the community level in Nigeria.
But community action alone cannot solve the decades of conflict in Nigeria. Deeper issues such as corruption, systemic marginalization and an ingrained lack of government responsiveness to its people, have all contributed to conflicts that undermine basic security and trust in the government, spark violence and result in devastating humanitarian crises.
Nigeria’s democracy is vibrantly alive, with a rowdy, free media and a restive, engaged citizenry. I was impressed throughout my visit by youth, women, community, faith and state leaders who are working to address the chronic violent conflicts that plague Nigeria. Their voices need to be heard and amplified to hold the political class accountable. It will be vitally important for the United States to continue to invest in their efforts as well.

This piece by Ms. Lindborg, President of United States Institute of Peace (USIP), was culled from the USIP website

Alaafin and his fecund prowess at 80

By Sola Adeyemo

To some people, especially the traditionalists in Yorubaland, every man is a potential polygamist. To them, if a man has only one wife, and he vows to be a monogamist, deeper research into his lifestyle would reveal that if he has the enabling wherewithal, he could have affection and possibly, intimate relationship with another female person.
According to those who believe in this school of thought, a polygamist is not a man that marries more than one wife, but any man who has a wife at home and keeps a Mistress or Mistresses outside his matrimonial home. Among the Yoruba, polygamy is however not seen as anything bad, going by the agricultural advantage it brings to farmer-husbands who in the past years used their wives and children to cultivate their farms instead of hiring labourers.
Whatever favourable reasons could be advanced to support polygamy, Christianity however frowns on it: “One man, one wife”, is the Biblical sermon. Islamic religion nevertheless allows a man to marry at most four wives (provided he can be fair and just to all of them).
Many of our traditional rulers have been clamouring for more roles to be assigned them by the government, in order to make them more relevant in their societies.
According to a monarch in a friendly talk some years ago, “Obas are living too much of sedentary lifestyle. We cannot move about and do things freely as you my friends can. Before, I could enter beer parlour and drink, but since I have been installed, I can no longer do that”, he said.
The monarch added that, “We have less work to do unlike before and that is why many of us have many wives. I hardly have friends to play with now unlike before, and that is why it is our wives that are, most of the times, our friends that we relate with. If I am not busy with official assignments, what I do is to move from one room to the other, playing with my Oloris”, the monarch told me and some of my colleagues who visited him in his palace then.
To preach against polygamy to such monarchs is like telling them to try suicide. Even if a newly-installed monarch does not want to practise polygamy, whether he likes it or not, he must maintain the widows left behind by his predecessor(s). He may however not engage in intimate relationship with them if he chooses so.
It is therefore not outlandish to see some Yoruba Obas in company with a retinue of Oloris in their palaces. While some Obas don’t relish showcasing their wives at public functions, some however cherish it. Aside this, not many of them publicise their procreation experience, for instance, naming ceremonies, while some do. A man’s sauce, is another’s poison, an aphorism says.
Menopausal experience is a known phenomenon where women above 50 years of age are believed to lack the capability to get pregnant and get delivered of children. There have however been reports of instances where some women in their late 50s and early 60s give birth. Conversely however, science has proved that a man can be virile and potent even at 80 years or more depending on his state of health. One such human being is the foremost traditional ruler and Permanent Chairman of the Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs, His Imperial Majesty, Iku Baba Yeye, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba.(Dr.) Abdul Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111.
He is 80 years, and less than three months ago, he had two sets of twins from two of his young Oloris within nine days. Nine years ago when he was 71, the “Alase Ekeji Orisa” had surprised the world when he announced arrival of triplets from one of his Oloris, Ayaba Folasade Aisat Adeyemi. The ‘Etaoko’ are: Adeola (female); Adeniran, (male); and Adebunmi (female). The birth was elaborately celebrated in the ancient town of Oyo, and globally on the social media.
When nine years after, the octogenarian monarch, who was an amateur boxer in his youthful days, announced in February this year that he had been blessed with a set of twins (girls) from Ayaba Memumat, tongues again got wagging.
More astounding was the announcement on Monday, 28th February, 2018, a day after Ayaba Memumat’s twins were named in an elaborate ceremony, that Alaafin’s youngest Olori, Ayaba Olaitan Ajoke, was just delivered of another set of twins (boys). The agile and vivacious monarch therefore had four children in nine days from two beauties who are in their 20s. Unprecedented experience, one may say!
Unlike many monarchs however, the Alaafin relish flaunting the beauties of his Ayabas at social functions, including overseas shoppings, as they usually flank him in colourful traditional attires.
At 80, the ‘Iku’ is still waxing stronger in his manly endowment and this is the unique aspect of the monarch’s nature. What marvels many people about Alaafin’s fecundity is however where he derives the macho, sexual strength that enables him to produce the set of twins, which many younger ones do not even have ability for. After all, many still believe in the scientific claim that men’s potency and strength decrease as they advance in age.
Commenting on the not-so-usual experience, and the secret that could be there in the Alaafin’s procreation ability, an Oyo Town indigene, who prefers not to be named, was quick to say that “the secret in it is the tradition. The efficacy of traditional, libido-enhancing ‘agbo’ and ‘agunmu’ (liquidised herbs and ground roots with barks) is what you are witnessing like that. If not, how can a man of 80 years still have the power and sexual strength to satisfy more than seven wives, yet produce triplets, two sets of twins and several single borns? How many young and able-bodied men even have such strength?, he asked.
When asked what he thought could be the secret of Alaafin’s potency, an elderly kin of the monarch, who is a revered retired Methodist Bishop, Ayo Ladigbolu, said, “Ah! That is a very big question o. Could it lie in anybody’s mouth to tell you that? “Enu onikan la ti ngbo ponun o”, meaning, (an answer to such a question lies only in the Horse’s mouth).
To some people however, the fecundity at 80 might not be unconnected with the sporty interest of the Alaafin. He was an amateur boxer in his youthful days, and till date, the Imperial Majesty engages himself in shadow boxing in his palace. He exchanged punches with a young boxer sometime last year during a boxing tournament organised by an Oyo indigene resident overseas. His gait in the boxing ring that evening did not leave anybody in doubt as to the fact that the Alaafin was indeed a healthy being with youthful mind in his aged frame.
Some ‘doubting Thomases’ however were of the warped reasoning that Baba might not be the biological father of the children. To them, “it is possible some hired hands are working for Baba behind the scene”. This idea is however always being defeated with the power of sharp semblance many of ‘Iku’s’ children have with him. Many of them are chips off the old block.
Iku Baba Yeye is celebrating the two sets of twins tomorrow in his expansive palace. Many people from all walks of life will converge to felicitate with him, the two lucky mothers, and their ‘beautifully-handsome’ two-month-old twins.
Your Imperial Majesty, please ride on. With due respect and unreserved reverence, I say “Congratulations! May your fountain never run dry. The children shall be greater than you, Sir”.

Adeyemo, an Oyo indigene, is the Oyo State correspondent of Daily Telegraph Newspaper

Kudos to Sen Shehu Sani, by Femi Falana (SAN)

Shehu Sani

In the current edition of The News magazine, Senator Shehu Sani made a disclosure which has serious implications for public accountability in Nigeria. Without mincing words the Senator blew the lid off federal legislators’ salary secrecy.

For the first time since May 1999, the Senator disclosed the jumbo emoluments of the members of the upper chamber of the national assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. According to the Senator, the running cost of each Senator is N13.1 million in addition to a consolidated salary of N750,000 per month.

Apart from the monthly package of N13.8 million, each Senator is given the opportunity to execute constituency projects to the tune of N200 million per annum. However, the disclosure made by Senator Sani does not cover the allowances for cars, housing, wardrobe, furniture etc running to several millions of Naira approved for each Senator.

Last year, the legislators also illegally purchased exotic cars of N4.7 billion for themselves when workers were owed arrears of salaries and the masses were groaning under a recession caused by the profligacy and mismanagement of the national economy by the ruling class.

While we commend Senator Shehu Sani for exposing the secrecy which had enveloped the salaries and allowances of federal legislators in Nigeria before now, it is crystal clear that the statement credited to Professor Itse Sagay, the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council not too long ago to the effect that Nigerian legislators are the highest paid in the world cannot be faulted.

However, the federal legislators cannot be blamed alone for paying themselves skyrocketing salaries and allowances outside the ambit of the wages approved for all political office holders in the country.

The members of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission empowered by section 70 of the Constitution to approve the salaries and allowances of the legislators have always washed off their hands like Pontius Pilate while the Budget Office has never questioned the payment of unauthorized salaries and allowances to federal legislators.

The revelations by Senator Sani should, therefore, provide an opportunity for the Nigerian people to review the entire costs of governance under the rickety democratic dispensation. The Buhari administration owes the nation a duty to ensure that no political officer is paid salaries and allowances that have not been approved by the Revenue Mobilization. Allocation Fiscal Commission.

The federal government should, as a matter of urgency, halt the payment of double salary and allowances to a number of legislators and ministers.

Sadly, it has been reported in the press that there are moves in the Senate to place Senator Shehu Sani on indefinite suspension for spilling the beans on the payment of the illegal salaries and allowances to federal legislators.

Having discharged a public duty by blowing the whistle on a matter of crucial national importance, all lovers of democracy and public accountability in Nigeria should rally round the Senator by ensuring that he is not harassed for exercising his constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right to freedom of expression.

In view of the duty imposed on all authorities and persons in Nigeria by virtue of section 287 of the Constitution, to comply with the judgment of every competent court, Senator Sani cannot be penalized for disclosing the salaries and allowances of federal legislators in compliance with the valid and subsisting orders of kthe federal high court.

Mixed metaphors: Winners and losers


By Sonala Olumhense

First, a few notes of appreciation.

Top of my list this week: the members of Nigeria’s Winter Olympics team: skeleton athlete Simi Adeagbo, and bobsledders Seun Adigun, Akuoma Omeoga and Ngozi Onwumere.

On account only of their heart, strength and resilience, they defined a historic presence for Nigeria in PyeongChang, setting down and setting up the nation’s flag in unfamiliar winter sports, and in the process telling a million feel-good stories.

I also congratulate the EFCC for affirming that it will not negotiate with former First Lady Patience Jonathan, who wants to settle out of court the serious financial crime issues she faces.  Responding to her January 30 proposal, the commission announced last week it would not negotiate.

Mrs. Jonathan’s situation worsened considerably on Wednesday when former presidential aide Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, a principal character in the saga, testified in her arrogant N200m fundamental rights enforcement suit against the EFCC how he obtained from Mrs. Jonathan, and her husband then President Goodluck Jonathan, the large sums he often deposited.

Regrettably, the EFCC was last week also appealing to former Minister of Aviation Stella Oduah to come to the commission’s offices.  In the past three years, the agency said, Mrs. Oduah, who has been investigated by the commission, had spurned five invitations.

“If she fails to cooperate, we will either obtain a warrant for her arrest or declare her wanted,” a source said.

Three years and five invitations, EFCC?  It is a shame that after the first two letters, you continued to invest in postage stamps, while allowing Mrs. Oduah to live in affluence in Abuja.  Show some character and pride, EFCC, and arrest this woman, NOW!

With Nigerians lamenting the impotence of his government, President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday chose to praise himself, declaring in Adamawa State that he has fulfilled his electoral promises.

The praise-and-be-praised session took place at the palace of the Lamido of Adamawa, Muhammadu Barkindo.  Seizing the microphone himself, the Lamido said of Buhari: “They are burying their heads in shame and telling people that (the Buhari-led) Government has done nothing.”

He cited the Treasury Single Account, the economy, security, and the anti-corruption propaganda as Buhari’s accomplishments.

But fate would challenge the praise-singers, as it turned out that just hours before Buhari’s Yola party, Boko Haram had strolled into the Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School (GGSTSS) in Dapchi, Yobe State, and—just as it did in Chibok in 2014—abducted dozens of students.

The bizarre incident took place two weeks after I warned in this column that it was too early for the government to celebrate the so-called “defeat” of the militants.

How bad is the latest abduction, keeping in mind that the global outrage over the Chibok girls helped Buhari’s APC offensive in 2014 and 2015?

First, for days the government said nothing.  On Wednesday, the police in Yobe State confirmed the abduction, but did not give any numbers. The Yobe State Government then claimed—wrongly—that the military had rescued some of the girls.

That claim was denied on Thursday morning by the army. “We cannot confirm,” Defence spokesperson John Agim told a reporter.  By then, Buhari—his government in sixes and sevens—had cobbled together a panel to travel to Dapchi to “find” the facts.

“Cannot confirm” was still Abuja’s position on Thursday afternoon.  Arriving in Dapchi, Minister of Information Lai Mohammed appealed for time.

Mr. Mohammed was answering the wrong question.  The right query is whether the government, perhaps for election reasons, had overstated its anti-insurgency success.  Boko Haram did not sound like a defeated force upon arrival in Dapchi, the villagers saying they came in at least 10 trucks.

The government described Boko Haram’s audacious assault upon Dapchi as an effort to “embarrass” Buhari.  Really?  Perhaps the militants felt no embarrassment as the government drank, sang and danced in Maiduguri, claiming the group was dead and buried, and its leader fleeing in women’s attire.

So much for the claim about having conquered the insurgency.  So much for claims of Nigeria being secure, despite cattle herdsmen overrunning forests and towns and airports, and kidnappers and robbers taking roads and towns and villages as APC and government bigwigs fly around in executive jets they swore they would sell.

And then, just like Boko Haram hurting the government’s feelings in Dapchi, a new Transparency International report confirms that Buhari has been combating corruption with propaganda pellets.  TI’s 2017 Corruption Perception Index places Nigeria in a dismal 148th in a ranking of 180 countries, corruption marching on undisturbed in the Buhari years.

It is over one year ago that, in “The Fall of Buhari, And the APC,” I described Buhari’s Nigeria as a “farce” and a “hoax.   “Buhari marketed a product he could not manufacture, and the APC used Buhari’s legend to grab power in the centre,” I declared.  “He has compromised his own cause by treating it as if it were a private skirmish, perhaps to be drawn out over two terms of office and fought in the media rather than in the court of law and the court of personal example, and in which only the opposition, can remotely be guilty.   And he gives economic management a bad name.”

But we are on the eve of the 2019 election now, and the government is unable to understand that the propaganda of attack does not work when you are defending, particularly when the audience has seen your nakedness.

Only last week, Buhari, continuing the propaganda, affirmed that his government will sell all unclaimed looted assets it has recovered.  He made the declaration in Daura, his hometown.

I fully support that plan, except that without a full identification of these properties and their owners, the effort is meaningless, even dangerous.  If the government merely sells just so it can claim it “put the money in the treasury,” that would be deception because the original owners and their friends would be the ones laughing after they have bought back the properties.

There is no evidence Buhari will provide this information.  In the past two years, he has gone back on promises to name looters and their loot.  In 2016, in a singular demonstration of condoning—not combating—corruption, Buhari published a listing of funds recovered, without naming anyone.  In effect, the criminals had returned a slice of what they stole, or nothing at all. That is how you nurture impunity.

In a similar way, although the government continues to swear by the rule of law, it has refused to publish the two looting accounts ordered by two courts.  That is how you nurture corruption and become a damaged brand.

Finally, towards the 2019 re-election effort, Buhari has appointed Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of the APC, to undertake the task of healing the fissures within the party.  And last week, Tinubu accused party chairman John Oyegun of sabotaging that assignment, citing decisions Oyegun has made in recent weeks.

No, Mr. National Leader, the Chairman is not sabotaging you.   It is the APC which is sabotaging the hopes of Nigerians.  Even if it somehow wins next year’s election, it will not win back their goodwill.

Beyond the razzmatazz of Lagos @ 50 celebration

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