The flurry of activities marking the Golden Jubilee anniversary of Lagos State has, no doubt, been breathtaking. Since March 2016, when the Lagos State Government inaugurated a 10-man Planning Committee under the chairmanship of Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka to drive the event, a number of colloquiums have been held to highlight Lagos’ culture, tradition, history, economy, governance among others.
In line with the Akinwunmi Ambode administration’s all inclusive policy, all divisions of the state, namely Ikorodu, Badagry, Ikeja, Lagos Island and Epe were specially focused on and appropriately celebrated. Each had a whole month dedicated to it with a view to highlighting their diverse socio-economic and cultural landmarks.
Similarly, documentaries stressing the Lagos success stories of 50 prominent personalities were produced and aired. The goal is to emphasize Lagos as a land of opportunities where hardworking and talented folks, irrespective of tribal, religion, ethnic and social –economic status could achieve their life’s aspirations and dreams. Among personalities whose Lagos’ narratives have either been aired or are to be aired are Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Alhaji Femi Okunni, Professor Pat Utomi, Chief (Mrs.) Nike Akande, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Chief Razak Okoya and a host of others.
The strategy of the Lagos State Government is to creatively deploy several events slated to commemorate the state’s Golden Jubilee anniversary to further promote the culture of hard work and success which are what make Lagos special. Perhaps more importantly is the fact that this is the first time in the history of the country that a government would make concerted, consistent, effective and measured efforts to embark on such sophisticated and impactful year- long anniversary commemoration.
Equally more significant is the fact that the year-long anniversary was tied to a monthly event that representatively revolved round the 27th of every month since May last year. For instance, the One Lagos brand was launched as the state’s tourism initiative on July 27, last year; a ‘Love Lagos Weekend’ Town Hall meeting was held in London on August 27, last year while a Lagos Corner was set up at the renowned Nottinghill Carnival last year. It is also quite significant to stress that Lagos was fêted at the exalted Toronto International Film Festival with eight films in September last year, thus becoming the first African city to be so acknowledged.
To further add colour to the Lagos at 50 carnivals, the maiden edition of the Lagos Street Party and the second edition of the One Lagos Fiesta were also held in December 2016. This is in consonance with the State Government philosophy of promoting tourism in the State through T.H.E.S.E which is acronym for Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Sporting Excellence. Hence, the various tourism related events that are part of the Golden Jubilee celebration were deliberately designed to boost tourism in the State.
Though the 2017 phase of the Golden Jubilee anniversary began with the Lagos Art Expo on January 27 in memory of late Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi, who served as the co-Chairman of the Lagos@50 Planning Committee, activities lined up for the last 50 Days of the anniversary have actually been slated to take place from Saturday April 8 to Saturday, May 27.
The events from April 8 to May 27 have been carefully designed to essentially climax the Golden Jubilee celebration. Highlights of these events include theatre shows such as WAKAA produced by Bolanle Austen-Peters, KAKADU and FELA: The Broadway Musical. These therater events ran all through the Easter weekend at Eko Hotel while a comedy show tagged: LAGOS LAUGHS came up on May 7th where 50 of the most exceptional stand-up comedians in the country performed. The event coincidentally took place on World Laughter Day.
Prior to this, a colouful and spectacular Boat Regatta which evidently highlighted the aquatic splendour of Lagos State had taken place in Epe, Badagry and Lagos Island simultaneously. On the long run, the Boat Regatta would form part of the holistic plan the State Government to promote and sustain tourism in the state.
As part of vibrant events being put in place to further make the Golden Jubilee anniversary a memorable event, the Lagos Carnival and a Parade of Colours across the Island and Mainland parts of the state as well as the Eyo (Adamu Orisha) festival are scheduled to hold on Saturday May 20 at the Tafawa Balewa Square. Equally, the State Government has been commissioning a host of projects across the state. This is in line with goal of the Ambode administration to improve infrastructure across the State. Some of the projects include network of roads, bridges, transformers, street lights, monuments and recreation parks.
Some of the projects commissioned include; Ijegun-Isheri-Osun-Isolo Road, Idimu-Ejigbo Road (Phase II), New Market Road, Camp Davies Road/Ishefun Road, all in Alimosho local government area; Brown Road in Surulere; Adisa Ajibulu Road with Bridge and Kolawole Shonibare Street, Ajao Estate Road, both in Oshodi-Isolo local government area. Other projects include the installation of new transformers in Ibeju-Lekki, Epe, Eredo, Agbowa-Ikosi, Igbogbo-Bayeku, Ikorodu and Olorunda areas as well as Ojuloge Monument located opposite National Arts Theatre, Iganmu; Empowerment Monument at Sabo, Yaba; Drummer Monument at Ebute Ipakodo Roundabout, Ikorodu and Badagry Recreational Park among others.
Without a doubt, the Golden Jubilee anniversary is a landmark in the annals of the State. It offers the opportunity to document and capture for posterity, in various forms, different aspects of the history and progress of the state as well as the contributions of its icons and architects. Being the nation’s acclaimed “Center of Excellence”, Lagos State has indeed lived up to its billing considering the diverse activities that have been put together to make the Golden Jubilee anniversary a memorable event.
Certainly, Lagos has good reasons to roll out the drums at 50. It has enjoyed and sustained an enduring political and impressive socio-economic culture. It remains the melting point of Nigeria as well as the economic and commercial hot spot of West Africa. It remains a pace setter that other states look up to for tips in the art of contemporary governance, socio-economic growth and political stability.
In-spite of current national economic challenges, Lagos remains economically viable as its IGR is bigger than those of 32 states of the federation while its GDP is bigger than those of Kenya and Ghana combined. If it were to be a country, Lagos would be Africa’s fifth largest economy.
While wishing the state and its people more successes, it is hoped that the platform of the Golden Jubilee anniversary will be effectively used to further be the State in positive and progressive political and socio-economic stead.
Ogunbiyi is of the Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.