-Ikorodu residents express mixed reactions
If there is any government policy or programme that has enjoyed the overwhelming support of Lagosians, especially those at the grassroots, it is the One Lagos Fiesta (OLF), going by the level of the acceptance and massive supports it has generated across the State.
The 8-day yuletide carnival was designed to engage and entertain Lagosians, both young and old people, in a bid to usher them into a new year in grand style.
The fun-filled event is one of the few achievements of the administration of former Governor of the State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, whose four-year tenure ended ingloriously in May this year.
One Lagos Fiesta, which is an improvement on the ‘Lagos Countdown’ initiated by the administration of Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN, usually every year between December 24 and January 1.
From all indications, the present administration in the State, led by Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Dr Hamzat Kadri, seems not to be looking in that direction because nothing seems to be happening in terms of preparations and this has been making residents to wonder whether the present administration will continue the weeklong event or not.
Other questions being asked regarding OLF are: Is the present government going to change its name or structure? Will the government discontinue the yuletide gathering and if so, what alternative will it bring onboard?
These and many other questions are bothering the minds of Lagosians as it is just about two weeks to Christmas Eve when the event is expected to kick off.
OLF was also designed as a platform to further promote economy of the state through arts, culture and entertainment, and by extension, promote cooperation and unity and also bring about happiness among the people of the State during the festive period.
The 500 hours action-packed event holds in five locations which represents the five divisions that made up Lagos State, i.e Ikeja, Badagry, Ikorodu, Lagos and Epe (IBILE).
The event features lots of excitements and entertaining programmes like music performances by established and old musicians, dance, performing arts and comedy among others while thousands of residents, tourists and fun seekers storm the five centres across the State on daily basis to savour the joy and fun on offer.
The event also cater specifically for the children as parents are expected to bring them to the locations to have fun on daily basis from morning till late afternoon when they are expected to make way for the adults who will stay all night listening and dancing to songs from various artistes.
Prominent among music acts that usually perform at the five locations are Davido, Olamide, Kiss Daniel, Tiwa Savage, Humble Smith, PSquare, Small Doctor, Qdot, 9ice, Tekno and Burna Boy, Adewale Ayba, Alhaji Wasiu Alabi Pasuma and many others.
OLF also afforded the elderly residents the opportunity to see their favorite music acts of the olden days as some of them are often invited to perform at the event to the admiration of even the young generation. Among these legendary musicians are King Sunny Ade, Evangelist Ebenezer Obe, Bright Chimezie, Salawa Abeni, Blackky, Stella Monye and host of others.
Many expect that the initiative, which is a major achievement of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government in the state and part of what its successive governments had used in developing tourism in the state, would be allowed to continue under the Sanwo-Olu administration on many grounds.
The music fiesta has helped greatly in bringing back the nightlife which the state was known for in the 60s, 70s and 80s. This, to night crawlers, merrymakers and business people, is a welcome development as it has enabled them to have unrestricted fun and do business.
The initiative has also created opportunity to promote a 24hour economy in the state in a bid to further advance the Megacity status of the State.
Club owners, hotel managers and other entertainment facilitators across the State crave for opportunity such as the one provided by OLF to enable them service their facilities continually and meet up with their obligations to the government in terms of tax payment and other expectations.
Since entertainment, through music, is the heart of the OLF , which is being organized by the Lagos State Government through the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture, it has over the years served as a veritable platform for talent discovery, particularly music talents, at the grassroots and consequently showcase and promote them.
It also availed the established musicians the opportunity to enjoy patronages from the government and corporate bodies which are partners in the project, thereby, showcasing their refined talents to the global entertainment village and giving them international reckoning.
The annual music fiesta has equally proven to be an effective tool for boosting local economy of the host communities as many vendors and business owners, especially those in food catering, drinks, printing, clothing, media and other businesses make steady incomes for the weeklong fun-filled event.
While some of the residents are of the view that government is repackaging OLF, some have adopted ‘let’s wait and see attitudes’ while many are of the views that the present administration must continue with the tradition as created by its predecessors in ensuring that Lagosians have a fun-filled Yuletide season through the state-sponsored music fiesta.
Failure to continue with the annual event may also send wrong signal to the global tourism village, thereby, portraying Lagos, which is priding itself as tourism and entertainment hub of Africa, as lacking the will to continue such a major entertainment event which many tourists across the globe are looking forward to and might have even made travelling plans to attend.
The failure to continue with the musical and entertainment festival may also disrupt the plans of many Lagosians who might have planned to stay back in Lagos for Xmas holiday in order to catch fun at the OLF, rather than travelling to their respective hometowns. .
Meanwhile, a section of the residents has also argued that the Sanwo-Olu’s administration should focus on using available state fund in developing the state rather than wasting it on what they termed as “jamboree “which according to them, does not affect everybody.
Others who are opposed to the continuation of the OLF, especially those in entertainment business, are of the view that the event always prevent them from attracting patronages that would fetch them enough financial gains as people watch their performances free of charge, courtesy of the state government.
Below are some of the reactions of the residents of Ikorodu in support and against the continuation of the OLF.
Olalekan Oba Biliamin, media and political operative, in his own reaction, stated:
“This is untrue… It’s now GREATER Lagos fiesta”.
A supervisory Councilor with the Ikorodu Local Government, Prince Deji Osho, JP, while also contributing, stated:
“I don’t think so. Let’s wait and see”.
Adejuwon Waladu Sheikhaany, speaking on the issue, stated that the fact that Sanwo-Olu’s administration is not saying anything about it does not mean that the event would not be staged.
“The quietness is not new because it also happened last year when the former governor (Ambode) felt disappointed losing the primary election for his second term (in 2018). Due to this, he was disappointed and residents felt that he would not sponsored the 2018 OLF. At that point, everything was quiet without any advert or notice but at the end, it happened”, he stated.
“The quietness shouldn’t raise any suspicion that the current administration would not host the Fiesta. Let’s wait till December 24”, he added.
Adeleke Fasanya, a political and community activist, while stating that there are many projects and programmes that the government should embark upon that would have more meaningful impact on the people, also pleaded that the government should not cancel the annual event.
“Truly, there are more important projects and programmes that will have more meaningful impacts on the lives of Lagosians than the “ONE LAGOS FIESTA CELEBRATION”, but I will like to plead to the governor to have a rethink and not cancel the much awaited mega celebration in Lagos if that is his plan.
“Available fact has it that the economic growth of Lagos improves drastically during this period of celebration, as small and large scale business enterprises like farmers, market men and women, food vendors, fashion designers, event planners , transporters, barbers, make-up artists, and musical artistses all enjoy high patronage from customers who would want to go to the various centres of the event across the State to relax and enjoy themselves to the fullest”, he added.
He also viewed the 8-day event as a way of reducing crime rate in the state as young men and women are attracted to the various centres dancing and drinking during the period and think less of crime.
“Furthermore, crime rate within that short period reduces to the bearest minimum, as many will want to be in a more relaxed mode at the fiesta venue, including the miscreants who will be busy dancing and drinking at various venues of OLF.
“So, I will humbly advise the governor to consider the message being passed to the people through this weeklong music fiesta and not the messanger who has since gone his own way after his stay in office as former governor of Lagos State”, Adeleke advised.
The Executive Director and member of the Board of Trustees (BOT), Ikorodu Division Youth Initiative Movement (IDYIM), Comrade Samson Bisiriyu, reacting to the issue in a chat, stated that the current administration is in better position to determine whether to continue with the OLF or not.
”In my own personal opinion, I think that the government knows what to do and what not to do. We should not forget that this is new a administration with set priorities” , he stated.
“Currently, Lagos is facing a lot of challenges, from bad road networks to environmental pollution and others. To make all these work requires money.
“We must know that, what Lagos State spend on one Lagos Fiesta is more than what they are getting. I don’t think that if government sees a project that is more productive and beneficial to Lagosians/taxpayers, it won’t want to go for it rather than spend money on a jamboree that’s of less importance to the welfare of the people”, he added.
“What we need now is a working system. Our educational and Health system as well as the infrastructure and others are lacking necessary actions and attention”.
“Why should government now take jamboree as a priority. How many tax payers are benefiting from OLF? How many of beneficiaries of OLF are consistent taxpayers? Tax payers will not be happy that money that should be considered for the improvement of facilities and infrastructure are being spent on jamboree”, Samson stated.
Femi Adinlewa, the Publicity Secretary of the main opposition party in the state, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), stated that the current All Progressives Congress (APC) government is expected to continue with the OLF on the grounds that the event engages Lagosians and prevent crimes.
“We expect the incumbent Governor to continue the programme (OLF). It engages the youths, makes them happy and it creates violence free environment during the festive period” , he stated.
A popular Deejay in Ikorodu Division, DJ Kalakuta, while also reacting via a chat, opposed the continuation of the Yuletide festival on the ground that it prevent patronages for Deejays during the period.
“I am opposed to its continuity because DJs don’t get work anymore during the period”, he stated.
“It’s always affecting our work in December. If the programme do not hold, DJs will get more jobs during the festive period”.
Oluwakemi Bashexy Hassan, a legislative aide at the National Assembly and music promoter, in his own reaction, called for the continuation of OLF while also stating that entertainment is a major tool in boosting the economy.
“We must do everything humanly possible to retain “One Lagos Fiesta”, he stated categorically.
Tracing the development of OLF, Bashexy acknowledged the initiative of former Governor Ambode in improving on the weeklong event which started as Countdown Lagos during Governor Babatunde Fashola administration.
“It started as countdown Lagos, then it was just about one venue located in Victoria Island.It later turned to One Lagos fiesta with 5 venues that spread across all the division in Lagos State (IBILE). I salute our former Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on this one. This is worthy of emulation”.
“Now, we have Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the governor of Lagos state. We want to continue to enjoy this wonderful initiative. Entertainment is a major tool in developing the economy.
“So many people love to be entertained. They want to enjoy and catch fun, they love to take their kids out to have fun at parks and other fun centres, but the major challenge is money due to the state of our economy. The state of their finances cannot accommodate such.
“One Lagos fiesta offers them the opportunity to enjoy that and give their family treats of lifetime without having to spend much. It makes it easier for people troop out enmasse to the venues of the fiesta.
“OLF has also added more glamour to the Yuletide season in Lagos State. You will agree with me that, till date, the turnout at every venue have always been very massive. You need to check out the venues in Badagry, Epe, Agege & Ikorodu to appreciate this. There is always long queues at the main entrances of all the venues as a large crowd of people wait patiently to gain entrance….”
“One Lagos fiesta, no doubt, is a symbol of peace and unity as it brings everybody together to catch fun under a peaceful atmosphere. You also get to make new friends and catch up with old ones in the crowd, on the stage and back stage as well as among the press, vendors and others”.