By Nehru Odeh
The Lagos State Government, on Thursday 6 January 2022, handed over the management of the iconic Glover Memorial Hall to Lufodo Group, a theatre and film producing company founded by Olu Jacobs and Joke Silva. Built in 1887, the Glover Memorial Hall (GMH) is a heritage building for theatre and performing arts in Lagos
Mrs Uzamat Akinbule-Yusuf, the Commissioner of Tourism, Arts and Culture, alongside the Permanent Secretary, Princess Adenike Adedoyin-Ajayi and Director of Theatre, Mr Odusote handed over the management of the hall to Lufodo after a rigorous bidding process for the concession to manage it, which Lufodo had won.
Lufodo, in partnership with Ciuci Consulting-a leading consulting and operations management firm will be managing GMH for the next 5 years. This partnership will have both Ms. Joke Silva and Mrs Ifeoma Monye as co-CEOs. Joke Silva is in charge of artistic direction and Ifeoma Monye operations.
Also, a new board has been established with Mr. Gbenga Oyebode as the Chairman. The board members include Chief (Mrs.) Taiwo Taiwo, Ms. Joke Silva, Dr. Tony Rapu, Mr. Soji Jacobs, Mrs Ifeoma Monye and Dr. (Mrs.) Amina Abubakar Bello.
Speaking at the event, Ms Joke Silva thanked the Lagos State government for their trust in Lufodo and assured them that their trust has not and will not be misplaced.
Mrs. Ifeoma Monye a partner at Ciuci Consulting said: “This handover is symbolic and shows that Lagos State is interested in the development of the performing arts industry. With more Public-Private Partnerships, there is no limit to the growth that the great state and nation will experience.”
Glover Memorial Hall was built in 1887 and named in honour of Sir John Hawley Glover, governor of Lagos Colony between 1864 and 1872. Glover died in 1885, after which prominent Lagosians fundraised the same year to build the Glover Memorial Hall as a spot for the social and political life of Lagos. The hall was the first to host the public screening of a film in Nigeria in 1903, under the invitation of the foremost nationalist, Sir Herbert Macaulay.
It was also the venue of the launching of his political party, the National Council for Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), and the Lagos branch of the Action Group. Community town hall meetings, elections and arbitration cases were held at the GMH. Notable theatre artistes such as Kola Ogunmola, Oyin Adejobi, Herbert Ogunde, etc. also premiered their productions there
Though a socio-cultural and political hub in Lagos, the building was later abandoned and was for many years a shadow of itself. In 2000, Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration renovated it but the facility was poorly maintained as it depended majorly on government allocation.
The condition of the hall became worse and lay practically desolate after the death of Elder Steve Rhodes, the music Impresario and member of the board of Trustee. Not only was it abandoned, unbefitting of any worthy event, it was leaking and smelling.
Then sometime in 2017, the former Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode took personal interest. He released the hall to Qudus Onikelu, the brain behind Q Dance company and the annual Dance Gathering festival as a base for their rehearsals, performances and temporary office.
Then about a year later, the former governor decided the historic hall was ready for a total make-over which he started towards the end of 2018 under the joint supervision of the Ministries of Works and Tourism, Arts & Culture.
However, it was the current Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who completed the renovation Ambode had started. Last week, the refurbished hall finally roared to life with an unveiling ceremony by Sanwo- Olu.
Speaking at the official handover ceremony of the 1000-capacity hall on Customs Street in Lagos Island, Sanwo-Olu assured Lagosians that his administration would not neglect the real identity of Lagos, adding that he would not relent in his efforts to make the creative industry as well as entertainment and tourism thrive.
“The completion and formal commissioning of the remodeled Glover Memorial Hall reflects our determination to rebuild Lagos, revamp our historic/public assets and also develop the Entertainment, Creative, and Tourism Sector, which is one of the pillars of our T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda.
“Our administration is mindful of the fact that the tourism and entertainment sector is an integral part of socio-economic development, and the overall well being of our citizens, which is why this sector will not be neglected in our drive to make Lagos a mega city. We are committed to innovatively seek ways of providing the enabling environment for the tourism and entertainment sector to thrive.
“Today’s event signals a gradual return of activities within the tourism and entertainment sector. It is a boost for our creative practitioners and entertainers as well as the necessary catalyst for economic growth because if we properly harness our human and capital resources, tourism and entertainment will become major contributors to socio-economic growth and development.