By Mufutau Egberongbe
It takes two to tango, says a popular axiom that has now been over flogged. In this case that I would be writing about, however, it is still very necessary. The ‘two’ here may not just mean two in the terms of figure, but a governor and a team of people whose ultimate and collective goal is to see that the state continues to be the light that shines on the country.
If anything, the One Lagos Fiesta of 2016 is a case in point. Was it a success? That would just be an understatement. A better description could only help attempt to paint a better picture but I still lack a better word to paint the true picture in my mind. It may just therefore suffice to thank Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for providing the opportunity for the state to be counted among countries of the world, and Speaker Mudashiru Obasa, for keying into and ensuring that the programmes and innovations of the All Progressives Congress-led administration in the state are implemented to the satisfaction of the people.
Moreso, the 2016 fiesta could best be described as a prelude to the celebration of Lagos at 50. We already know the ever-smiling Ambode and those leading the state. We know what they are capable of doing and how they will handle the celebration. For Lagosians, I dare say the fiesta is just a tip of the iceberg.
Obasa would always maintain that nothing good comes out of a state bedeviled by political bickering. “If there would be only one thing I would have the opportunity to achieve, it would be that the governor is given the latitude and required political atmosphere to carry out activities geared towards sustaining the excellence always recorded by the state,” the speaker has often said.
This year’s edition of what has now become an annual festival commenced on December 24, the eve of the Christmas celebration. Holding across the five zones of the state including Ikeja (Agege Stadium), Badagry (Badagry Stadium), Ikorodu (Ikorodu Town Hall), Lagos Island (Bar Beach) and Epe (Epe Recreation Centre), the event again brought out the best of the culture and tradition of the diverse people of the state.
It could be noted that the Speaker is in tune with this initiative for which he has had cause to commend Governor Ambode, especially for flagging it off in Agege, which the number three citizen represents. Beyond the commendation too, the Speaker also sees benefits including promoting the economy of the area and the state as well as catching residents with talents that would be beneficial to the state and themselves. “We are not just here to dance, we must take advantage of this fiesta to promote and advance the economy of Agege. We have to use this opportunity to showcase the good side of Agege to the world and as such, start thinking of what you can sell to the world. Let’s make this a world event that people will be looking forward to attend,” the speaker said on the day of the flagging off exercise.
Birthed in 2015, this year’s edition has shown that with consistency, the fiesta will favourably compete with carnivals held in many countries around the world with time.
A quick look at what the 2016 edition of the fiesta achieved is necessary to prove that the energy time and resources spent on the programme is worth the while.
An opportunity to bond:
One major area the fiesta has worked is the opportunity it granted the people of the state to meet with their leaders in a more relaxed atmosphere, to see that in the face of challenges, happiness is the watchword and to hear messages of hope. The residents were able to dance and hear their leaders speak of the progress the government has recorded in recent times. For example, while flagging off the fiesta, the governor was able to inform Lagosians that over N6 billion had already been earmarked for annual distribution through the Employment Trust Fund initiative. Agege division will get N1 billion of the fund. Hear the governor: “Those of you who are very creative; those of you who are artistic; those of you who are entrepreneurial in outlook; we have money that we will be ready to give to you to start your own business. We have earmarked over N6billion and we intend to push N1billion to this particular division. So, it is left for all of you to bring out your best. Whatever it is that you are doing, if you can’t get a white collar job, the ETF is there for you to help promote your business.”
The unforgettable event further brought famous celebrities closer to their fans. Musicians sang popular tunes to the delight of those who had the opportunity to attend.
An opportunity for employment
Yes, that is one of the concern of the Lagos state government; employment generation for which the ETF was set up. Speaker Obasa has always emphasized ‘catching the young’ through talent hunt. And the fiesta is one such opportunity available for this. This was put into consideration in the second edition of the fiesta.
At the commencement of the fiesta, Steve Ayorinde, the state commissioner of Information, announced the introduction of the talent hunt tagged: ‘Lagos Got Talent’ to help reward those with talents. Those selected from the audition had an opportunity to slug it out for the final showdown in Victoria Island on the 31st of December.
The event also brought some blessings to some divisions. The governor promised to build a cinema in each of the five divisions of the state. This would aid development and boost employment. And, in the argument of Speaker Obasa, it will help reduce piracy and boost live performances by those in the art-and-life field.
Boosting the economy
Lagos is considered the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria. The sustenance of this feat is therefore a top priority for any serious government. While many of his counterparts travel to practically appeal to investors, Ambode is constantly using his proverbial thinking cap constantly harnessing internal mechanisms to attract investors. The fiesta is one of such strategies.
At this period of recession, there is certainty that some business people had the opportunity to make money. Food and drink sellers, cloth sellers, bars and restaurants and even hotels achieved some successes during the period. Whether we open our minds to believe or not, these petty businesses add up to the enviable position of ‘the commercial nerve centre’.
One more thing the fiesta has been able to achieve is boost the morale of residents and help them create ideas of businesses and talents.
This is one achievement of the fiesta in 2016. The state government has never lost track of its responsibilities which include the security of lives and properties. The fiesta 2016 held in the various divisions with the venue packed-full. In this case, it helped to take away restiveness and robbery which is always at its height during festive periods like the Yuletide.
Boosting culture and tradition
At a period where the teaching of history in schools has been jettisoned, it is very necessary that locals are made constantly conscious of their culture and traditional practices through tourism which the Lagos state government has made a priority. The 2016 event featured the different traditional dances of the divisions, their dressing styles and as well brought back memories of communal living and lifestyles.
It may just be important to ensure that the fiesta is not seen by some as an annual event for the youths alone. This is why the need for the introduction of local games ludo, traditional Ayo game, and cards. With the success of the 2016 edition of the event, there is certainty that the 2017 edition would not only be witnessed by residents of Lagos and neighbouring states alone, governors of the other states would definitely come for some tutoring while foreign tourists would find reasons to be part of the State of Excellence.
Egberongbe is the Special Adviser to Speaker Mudashiru Obasa on Political and Legislative Matters.