Ensure Peace, Security In Your Communities, Governor Ambode Urges Traditional Rulers

Ensure Peace, Security In Your Communities, Governor Ambode Urges Traditional Rulers

…Inaugurates New Lagos Council Of Obas And Chiefs

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Monday urged traditional rulers to work towards ensuring peace and security and as well be at the forefront of correcting anti-social behaviors in their communities, saying peaceful atmosphere remains the necessary ingredient for development.

The Governor, who spoke at Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja, while inaugurating the newly constituted Lagos State Council of Obas and Chiefs, said traditional rulers also have a pivotal role to perform in promoting the State’s tourism campaign being the custodians of culture and tradition of the people.

He said the new Council was coming at a time of momentous changes in evolution of the State, especially with the development by his administration to ensure that government presence is felt by every community.

“Our government has immense regard for our Royal Fathers and Traditional Rulers and we always welcome advice from our royal fathers in order to maintain social harmony and ensure peaceful coexistence in our State.

“I, therefore, use this opportunity to call on our Royal Fathers and Chiefs and the new leadership of the Council of Obas and Chiefs to continue to address anti-social behavior in their communities. The most important ingredient for development in the State is peace and security and you all have an important role to play in this.

“As custodians of the culture and tradition of our people, our royal fathers should also be at the forefront of the State’s tourism campaign. A significant aspect of tourism is our culture and historical sites which fall under your jurisdiction,” the Governor said.

He said the tourism potentials of the State and the resources being channeled by the State Government to environmental regeneration and creation of tourist hubs must be showcased to the world, adding that such required the support and cooperation of royal fathers.

He said regardless of the advent of modernism, the importance of traditional institution of kingship in the society could not be downplayed, noting that it remained a rallying point for the generality of the people.

The Governor, therefore, urged members of the re-constituted Council to justify the confidence reposed in them by using their wealth of experience to support his administration in the task of deepening democracy and bringing development to every part of the State, just as he restated commitment to the welfare and activities of royal fathers in the State.

Besides, Governor Ambode commended members of the dissolved Council for serving the State with a high sense of patriotism during their five-year tenure, and urged the new Council to advise government rightly on matters relating to customary laws, cultural affairs, inter-communal relations and maintenance of public order in the State.

Earlier, in his opening remarks, Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Mr. Muslim Folami said the re-constitution of the Council became imperative following the expiration of the tenure of the former Council after serving for five years in line with the law.

He said the new Council is made up of one Permanent Chairman in person of Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu; three Vice Chairmen, one Acting Vice Chairman and 77 members totaling 82 members.

“The composition of the new members is made to reflect the 20 Local Government Areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas, thereby allotting 15 members each to four divisions of the State and 21 members to Lagos Division due to its peculiarity,” Folami said.

The Vice Chairmen are Akran of Badagry, De Wheno Aholu Menu-Toyi I; Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Kabir Shotobi; Alara of Ilara, Oba A.O Adesanya; and Onigando of Igando, Oba Lasisi Gbadamosi.

Responding on behalf of the Council, Oba Akiolu thanked Governor Ambode for the opportunity given to them to serve the State, and urged traditional rulers to team up with government by coming up with useful ideas to assist in area of security, welfare, environmental sanitation and revenue generation.

Extend Love, Selfless Service Beyond Ramadan, LASG Urges Muslims

Extend Love, Selfless Service Beyond Ramadan, LASG Urges Muslims

…Says Govt Policies, Projects Tailored Towards Affecting Lives Positively

Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Wednesday evening urged Muslims to extend love to others and imbibe the act of selfless service to humanity during and after Ramadan, saying such would go a long way in making the world better.

Speaking at a Ramadan Tafsir held at Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja organised by the State Government to mark the official commencement of the Muslim fasting month, Governor Ambode said those having in excess must show gratitude by helping others and also exhibit total submission to God’s commandments.

“To all my Muslim brothers and sisters, I just want to use this opportunity to greet all of you that as we commence the Ramadan month and with all the lectures we have heard, we are doing this to be in tune with Allah and to be in sync with the kind of supplication that we want to give and we know 30 days out of 365 days are not enough to really show our total submission to Allah.

“What I just want to say is that the important thing in all these 30 days that we are going to have the Ramadan is to show love to ourselves and also show love to our neighbors.

“You need to love yourself first before you can even show love to another person. So, when we have in excess, we must show the attitude of gratitude to be able to give to others because somebody else has over provided for us,” the Governor said.

He said since assuming office, the guiding philosophy of his administration had been about inclusion and to positively touch lives, just as he admonished Muslims to imbibe the spirit of giving selflessly to others at all times.

“Beyond Ramadan, we must also show the attitude of giving at all times; that is the philosophy of our government; that is the practice we have been doing in the last three years; we must touch the poor and we must touch our people.

“There are people who are suffering and that is why we do projects that are people-oriented; that is why we go to areas that have never been touched before; that is why we would be in Ayobo, Akute, Badagry, Epe and places that have not been touched and that is the whole essence of why Allah has brought us on earth.

“God did not say we should come and acquire resources; He did not say we should come and acquire wealth; He says we should come and serve Him and we should serve Him selflessly. That is the philosophy of our government and that is what we have been preaching ever since I came into office. That is what we have continued to preach and imbibed and that is what I want every Lagosian to imbibe,” Governor Ambode said.

In his lecture on importance of Ramadan, National Missioner, Ansar-ud-deen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh Abdul- Rahman Ahmad, said almighty Allah, through the month, was calling on Muslims to learn the spirit of piety and service relationship with Him.

“We must introspect and ask fundamental questions about our relationship with almighty Allah. He has sent us here to worship him and worship is also love and care for humanity.

“When you fast, you are taken closer to how disadvantaged people feel. It is also an opportunity for us to be generous because we feel what it is meant to be deprived,” Ahmad said.

While urging Muslims to imbibe and sustain the spirit of giving beyond Ramadan, the cleric said it was a bad thing for people to spread falsehood and run others down, saying such should never be heard among Islamic faithful.

On his part, Founder of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Professor Ishaq Akintola commended Governor Ambode for religious harmony and massive infrastructural renewal drive across the State.

Speaking glowingly about the Governor, Akintola said: “We are hosted here today by a man of integrity; a man of honour; a man whose humanity has been attested to; a man who is not a Muslim but he is always there for Muslims.

“What we need in this country is a leader who will stand up for the truth, who will stand up for credibility, who will stand up for what is important not for religion, not ethnicity. Your Excellency, we are really proud of you.”

Also, Chief Imam of Lagos, Alhaji Sulaiman Oluwatoyin Abou-Nollah, commended Governor Ambode for always being on the field to monitor progress of work on the infrastructural projects across the State, saying the development had resulted in placing the State on sound pedestal for growth.

Prayers were offered by Islamic clerics for continued peace and prosperity of the State, the first family and Lagosians.

LASG To Regrass Teslim Balogun, Campus Mini Stadium To Host Int’l Matches

LASG To Regrass Teslim Balogun, Campus Mini Stadium To Host Int’l Matches

…To Set Up Three Viewing Centres For FIFA World Cup Tourney

The Lagos State Government on Wednesday said that plans are underway to replace the artificial turf at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere and Campus Mini Stadium, Lagos Island with natural grass in preparation for the facilities to meet the required standard to host the Confederation of African Football (CAF) matches.

Speaking at the ongoing annual Ministerial Press Briefing to mark the third anniversary of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration held at Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission, Mr. Kweku Adedayo Tandoh said the development was in line with the commitment of the present administration towards providing world class sporting facilities.

He said that Governor Ambode had already given approval for the comprehensive renovation of Campos Mini Stadium in Lagos Island, Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere; Mobolaji Johnson Sports Centre, Rowe Park, Yaba; Isheri Football Field/Swimming Pool, and Ijede Mini Stadium, Ikorodu.

He said the State Government has also begun the process to complete the upgrade of the Agege Stadium with the covering of the remaining seats at the facility.

He said within the period under review, the State Government awarded contracts for transformation of Onikan Stadium to an all-covered ultra-modern international stadium with FIFA certified artificial turf and multipurpose arena for entertainment concerts with capacity to accommodate 10,000 people, while preliminary works had already commenced on the construction of Maracana Stadium in Ajegunle.

On the request by the State Government to the Federal Government to release the National Stadium, Surulere, Tandoh said the process for retrofitting and upgrading of the facility to host international sporting tournaments was ongoing.

Giving details, Tandoh said: “You would recall that the Lagos State Government signified interest in taking over completely the National Stadium and the Governor did not just say it, he actually met with the Minister of Sports and a tour of the facility was carried out.

“One thing later developed and there were signs and signals that the Governor received that they were not actually ready to hand over the Stadium to us rather it seems as if they just wanted a concession agreement where the State Government would spend the money, get it fixed while the Federal Government would still be in place but that is not what Lagos State Government wants.

“So, during the visit of the President to Lagos State few weeks ago, the Governor at the State Dinner was able to grouch the intention again and he mentioned it in his speech to the President and the President verbally gave approval that that was going to be in place. Just yesterday, the Governor directed that I proceed to Abuja next week to deliver some communications that are necessary to put in place a formal handover of the National Stadium to Lagos State Government. We are grateful that this time they will give it to us on the terms that the Lagos State Government has requested for.”

He said it was also significant to report that the State Government has concluded plans to establish three viewing centres across the State for fans to watch world cup matches free of charge.

“Just yesterday, Governor Ambode approved that we should establish three viewing centres in Mushin, Alimosho and Ajegunle. The centres will be in place for the duration of world cup and will serve as venues where people in those areas can watch world cup matches free of charge,” Tandoh said.

He said approval had also been given for the employment of full time coaches as well as contract coaches, while training grants were also paid for a total of 300 state athletes in individual sports, combat sports, team sports, racket sports, traditional sports, para sports and deaf sports.

He added that as a result of the deliberate policies put in place, many of the athletes produced at sport tournaments organised in the State eventually ended up representing the country at international tournaments, just as he assured that government would continue to put efforts in place to promote sports at the grassroots.

On the street soccer championship, Tandoh said the sponsor of the tournament initially pulled out of the sponsorship due to financial constraint, but that talks have been activated to reintroduce the competition, among other local soccer championships.

Besides, he said as part of efforts to reposition the Commission, a four-year strategic sports development plan had already been approved for development within 16 weeks in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers Limited, adding that the plan would engender development of a strategy plan, staff capability assessment and performance management framework development.

Inclusion: Path To A New Nation; Lecture Delivered At The University Of Lagos 2017 Convocation

Inclusion: Path To A New Nation; Lecture Delivered At The University Of Lagos 2017 Convocation

I thank the Vice Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin T. Ogundipe and the Senate for the singular and profound honor of addressing this convocation. The positive role the University of Lagos has played in Nigeria and Africa cannot be overstated.  Through its halls have walked leaders and innovators in all academic disciplines; people who have devoted their knowledge and abilities to making our lives and this nation better.

Drawing students from across Nigeria, UNILAG is an institution fertile with the type of social and educational interaction and inclusion vital to forging a robust and progressive country.

To declare that UNILAG is the best school in the land, is not an empty boast nor is it a hopeful prediction to be left for future evaluation. It is a present fact. Thus, you, the graduating class of 2017, are but the latest inheritors of a lineage of academic and civic excellence.

In 1984, I attended a convocation much like today’s. On that day, I sat where you, now sit. I was an eager yet apprehensive young man set to graduate at 21. Although ready to tackle the world and make my mark, I was also a bit uncertain about what that world and life would bring.

I knew I was blessed to have attended this University with its sterling faculty, leadership and staff, fine traditions and robust student body. Now looking back, I realize that this school had prepared me better than I prepared myself for the challenges and opportunities that were to come.

If you ask me a thousand times if I would have matriculated anywhere else, a thousand times I would have said “No, I will stay right here.”  I am forever grateful for the chance to have studied and learned here.

34 years later, I now look at you only to see myself. You are as I was, except for one important thing: You are better. Whatever my generation has achieved, you must go further and do more to build a new and better nation.

True, I stand before you as the first UNILAG graduate to become Governor of Lagos. I am humbled by this distinction and elated to be the first to walk this path. But I know I shall not be the last to walk it.

I will not be the last graduate of this excellent school to become Governor of this State that is the Center of Excellence of our beloved nation.

Yes, all of you cannot be State Governors. Yet, in your own way, you must be leaders that correct the direction of our nation by improving our social attitudes and by relying more on conscience than on cunning in the conduct of its affairs.

We must break down old walls in order to erect a better home.

Yet good things do not just happen. Bad and evil come easily because they are the product of common human failings and lapses left too long uncorrected. But good and fine things are more difficult because they always must be crafted with adept care.

Excellence is never by accident. It is the product of wise exertion.

For you to answer the call of this nation for your generation to be better than preceding ones, you must strap yourself to courage, you must peer beyond the immediate to envision a better future and you must have the enlightened decency to refuse to yoke yourselves to ancient and irrational biases and hatreds that have no place in the nation we seek to build.

We all must understand this important reality: None of us chooses the world into which we are born. Yet we can choose to make of that world what we want it to be.

None of us can influence the place and time we are born or of the family or nation into which we come.

Some will say that a person is of this or that ethnic group, nationality or faith by incident of birth as if these things occur by cosmic whim or the roll of dice.

I don’t believe in accidents. Instead, I believe we all have been placed here by God-given design and purpose.

If our presence is surely born of God’s hand then we have not been placed on earth to hate another person simply because they were born of a different ethnic or religious stock. We cannot allow ignorance to fuel hatred in us. If we do, then we shall hold fast to a damaging ignorance because we have grown comfortable in hating one another.

So comfortable in disliking others and so eagerly basking in our own ignorance, we do grave disservice to ourselves.

We have not been placed here to oppose, obstruct and destroy our fellow man.

We honor the God who made us and we honor ourselves by honoring the rights of others and being concerned with the welfare of others as well.

We are here to uplift and improve everything around us. This requires compassion for each other.

Sadly, human history is checkered with examples of peoples and nations that have taken the wrong path by embracing the lessons of injustice and meanness. These places too diligently studied war, prejudice and division even among fellow citizens.

Eventually, all such peoples and nations fade away, destroyed not so much by external threats but by their own strong but ignorant hand.

Fortunately, there are examples of nations and peoples that rose above pettiness to become great through unity, collective purpose and intelligent effort.

We, as Nigerians, have a choice.  We can follow the path of folly or we can follow the road to our appointed destiny.

For me, there is no choice.

Yet, to assume the right course is also to depart from how we have misgoverned ourselves for much of our history.

Colonialism brought many groups together into one country but manipulated our fears so that we suspected the worst of each other.

We were wise and courageous enough to retire colonialism but we were too weak and imprudent to excise the divisive mindset that colonialism brought.

Thus, we live in the same house but not as members of the same family. We have known each other all our lives but behave as if we are abject strangers. In this house, we live in discomfort. We sleep with one eye open, one foot on the ground and our bedroom door locked if not also bolted.

The minute something happens, we jump to hurl the worse accusations at fellow citizens of other ethnic and religious groups.

This is because we have been taught to view the world as a zero-sum environment. According to this forlorn outlook, whatever one person gains must come at the expense of another. Your gain is my loss and vice versa.

Such a mindset is injurious to any household, be it a single family or a vast nation. It leads to constant bickering and battle. For it tells us there are no solutions that benefit all.  There is only contestation about who shall win and who shall lose.

This mindset constructs enmity and friction as if it were a national monument.

This perspective implies things cannot get better. That people cannot work together to produce more wealth, prosperity and opportunity so that everyone can reasonably expect to get a larger share of an expanding flow of wealth as the future unfolds.

Cynical people tacitly believe the supply of wealth, prosperity and all good things is static if not diminishing. Thus, competition grows more intense by the day as more people compete for possession and enjoyment of static number of valuable items.

Dig deeper and this mindset reveals something terribly barren in those who hold to it. They believe we are not in possession of the intelligence, ability and vision to improve our political economy in order to create more jobs and elevate the standard of living for most Nigerians.

Things will always be as is they are is their motto.

Well this flaccid motto cannot be our motto and the cynical ways of these people cannot be our ways.

Instead, I hold to the proposition that we shall become the best of who we are.

We do this by keeping our fellow man in heart so that we do not end up lunging at each other’s throat.

Here, I offer Lagos State as an example of what is possible for all Nigeria and Nigerians when we practice the governance of inclusion instead of the old, malign ways of exclusion.

Since the return of civilian rule in 1999, Lagos has been a fount of economic progress and social understanding and tolerance.

Led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a group of dedicated and committed Lagosians developed a blueprint for the transformation of the State. So much of the State had fallen down and decayed. The State’s glory seemed a thing of the past.

But we have steadily repaired it. First, the administration of Asiwaju Tinubu and then that of Babatunde Raji Fashola, moved the master plan from concept to concrete reality.

My administration is both a beneficiary of their work as well as a continuance of that work. We strive to go further because we have the opportunity to build upon what they have done.

Through the years, we have steadily repaired our State, modernizing and retooling things to the point where we now talk about turning Lagos into a Smart City.

In every way, our infrastructure is improved.  Our roads are better, our mass transportation has expanded, hospitals give better care to the sick and afflicted, education is improving and more affordable housing is being constructed before our very eyes.

The face of Badagry is changing. The makeover of Oshodi will cause you to marvel at the transformation that can take place even in densely populated urban space when there is the political will and determined creativity to give the people the infrastructure they deserve.

We are improving and expanding the Airport Road so that a trip to and from the airport no longer takes more time than your flight itself.

The Lekki-Epe axis was once an isolated, inactive tract of land. Now it bustles with energy, activity and prosperity due in large measure to the roads and other infrastructure our State has constructed.

We have and will continue to build bridges linking parts of Lagos that have not been linked before so that commerce, transport and communication among Lagosians will be facilitated.

We aim to make this state fully integrated so that one part is well connected to any other.

All of this work is underpinned by the belief that Lagos belongs to all of us. Lagos is not an exclusive club. It is an inclusive family.

What makes you truly Lagosian has little to do with where you were born, the origin of your surname or which Holy Book, if any, you read.

What makes you Lagosian is whether or not you are of the right civic and individual spirit. If you want to innovate and make things better, then you are Lagosian in heart;

If you seek to establish business, give jobs to people, and enrich the world around you, you are Lagosian at heart;

If you do not mind if a person of a different group or religion prospers so long as you too have the fair chance to do the same, then you are Lagosian at heart;

If you don’t mind hard work for yourself but also believe that everyone has the right of quiet enjoyment of the fruits of their legitimate labor and toil then you are Lagosian at heart.

It is in this spirit that we build Lagos anew. It is in this spirit that we can build a new Nation.

The roads that are built are for everyone. There is no such thing as a Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa road. Everyone equally suffers a bad road and equally benefits from a good one.

In Lagos, there is no legitimate business or trade you cannot enter because of ethnicity, gender or religion. There is no place you cannot go. There is no section where you cannot live.

The door is open to all whether you come from North, East, West and South or just across the street.

As long as you seek to engage in lawful business, you will encounter no barriers from this government. If you have a good idea, we will encourage it, we will invest in you regardless of where you came from.

We care less about where you came from. We care more about where you seek to go.

You see, the inclusion I talk about is more than a pretty word to say; so that I sound like some type of enlightened politician.

Inclusion is a principle by which we put to constructive use the full industry and skills of the people; Rich and Poor, Old and Young, Men and Women, Boys and Girls.

This results in greater individual and collective productivity. Reform, change and growth come at a faster clip. Concerted effort and the visible benefits of that collective exertions further divorces the people from the zero-sum mentality that fosters stagnation because it pits us against each other in perpetual friction.

Inclusion is not only the moral thing to do, it is the smart thing as well.

Contrast it with societies that erect walls and impediments to keep certain people from entering important political and socio-economic fields of endeavor.

These societies squander vital energy and waste finite resources in order to hamper segments of their populations from making the optimal contribution to their personal and collective existences. The energy and resources could have been used to develop society and promote harmony. Instead it gets used to depress growth, mistreat people and foment discord.

In effect, much of society’s potential for growth and prosperity is used to ensure that growth and prosperity do not come to all.

A favored group seeks to deny another group the adequate enjoyment of its share of the collective work product for unfair reasons of religion, ethnicity or color.

This exclusive society is founded on the cynical premise that one man’s bounty must always come at the invitation of another man’s poverty. Again, the zero-sum mindset rears its ugly head.

This perspective is a tempting lure for it is simple to understand and it speaks to the element of selfishness that infects every human being to some degree.

But having gone through the rigors of education that this institution requires, all of you know fully well that you cannot accomplish anything of excellent and lasting value by surrendering to base impulses and shallow thinking.

Our duty is not to entertain and exalt the worst of human nature. Instead, we are ordained to cultivate the best of human ideals so that we can abide in fairness, prosperity and security.

This is our objective in Lagos. We have recorded some progress along this pleasant road. Yes, we still have much to do and far to go. Yet, I am encouraged by the fact that we will do it as an inclusive team linked together by a just and compassionate social compact.

It is my unyielding belief that the principle of inclusion which has served Lagos so well can be employed in other states with similar effect. In effect, our dear nation, Nigeria.

However, for States to give optimal service to their citizens the principle of inclusion first needs to be applied to the division of power between the Federal and State governments.

There recently has been clamor for devolution of power and true federalism. While much of this talk is good intentioned, I believe it misses the crucial point.

The linchpin of good governance is not found in the system deployed but in the quality of its administration.

We must implement the federal system as it was intended to be. Heretofore, too much power has resided in the National government.

This has been to the detriment of the authority and efficiency of both State and Local governments.

This has caused a governance vacuum of sorts. The Federal government is burdened with tasks beyond the reach of its best competencies. The States and Local government are dissuaded from treating many matters of a local nature that are better left in their hands due to their greater knowledge of local conditions.

We need to shift some functions/responsibilities from the national government to place more of it in the hands of the States. This is how we give federalism the best chance to work. Until we do this, calls to abandon the current system serve not to fix the underlying problem.

If people are imbued with the exclusionary mindset that power must be centralized, any structural reform will be distorted to serve the purpose of those who favor concentration of power.

Hence, I am concerned about the intense focus on wholesale change to our political architecture. Such a thing is inherently time consuming and costly despite the claims that money will be saved.

Additionally, such attempts at enormous and rapid political change causes economic uncertainty and dislocation. Given our tenuous relationship to prosperity, Nigeria cannot afford this self-affliction.

Prudence counsels that we first attempt a more equitable level of fiscal federalism before adopting drastic alternations that likely plunge us toward the unknown.

There is widespread consensus that too much power sits in the center. We can correct this imbalance by reallocating power and responsibilities between the States and Federal government by amending the list of exclusive and concurrent powers and duties of these governments to reflect current realities in the nation.

These changes will have beneficial impact visible within a short amount of time. The impact of these changes, though political in origin, will be economic in nature and it is in our economic life where the nation needs the most help.

Resolving the problems regarding federalism and the herdsman’s, as with so many other problems, requires us to look beyond prejudice and hatred.

Exploiting fear and bias is easy and sings well in the short-run. Over the longer-term, it is a bitter cup that cures nothing but ferments greater hatred and larger problems.

CONCLUSION

To the graduates, I ask that you refuse the old ways of ethnic, religious and regional bias that have plagued our national politics for so long.

If you knew the vastness of the common challenges that face us all as Nigerians and Africans, you would quickly jettison the ethnic pettiness and religious bigotry that threatens to divide us. The rest of the world sees us as Black, African and Nigerian and will deal with all of us in the same manner. That larger world cares little about the internal divisions we see as so profound.  In this context, we are in the same boat and share the same fate.

Unless we join in concerted effort to help each other toward a better more united Nigeria, we all shall fail in our different ways.

Moreover, you did not attend this fine institution to fail either as an individual or as a nation.

You now assume the active stage of human affairs where what you learn must be put to use and practice. Employ what you have gained here for the good of Nigeria and hold true to the mindset that our ethnic and religious differences makes no one a lesser or better person.

We are linked together in common destiny. Thus let us work together in common purpose in order to make that destiny, the one we truly seek, which is an inclusive and forever just and prosperous Nigeria.

Religious Tourism Captured In Lagos Tourism Master Plan

Religious Tourism Captured In Lagos Tourism Master Plan

…Says State To Play Key Role In French President, Macron’s Visit To Nigeria July

The Lagos State Government on Monday said that the State’s Tourism Master Plan has adequately captured the potentials of spiritual or religious tourism, adding that the primary concern of government was to ensure that the infrastructure and enabling environment to drive tourism development was fully in place.

Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Steve Ayorinde who disclosed this while addressing journalists at the annual Ministerial Press Briefing to mark the third year anniversary of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration held at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, said the Master Plan, which would be ready by the end of May 2018, was geared toward showcasing the State as major tourism destination across the world.

According to Ayorinde, the long term strategic master plan, which is being prepared by Messrs Ernst & Young, will focus on six sectors including Culture and Heritage, Film, Art and Entertainment, Business Tourism, Nature and Adventure, Medical and Wellness, Beach and Leisure.

Responding to a question on if the Master Plan took cognisance of the multi billion naira generated by tourists visiting the State for spiritual purposes on a yearly basis, the Commissioner said that though not explicitly mentioned in the plan, said that every area of tourism had been adequately provided for in the document.

“If you look at the six sectors in broad terms, you will see that they have captured every area of tourism as far as business development and promotion are concerned and the interest of government is to develop the ecosystem of tourism, the practitioners, the tour operators everybody who has been involved over the years, will basically drive their businesses.

“But what government is interested in is to say that in the first two years after we have released the tourism master plan, what are the things that we need get done, what sort of policies should guise us, do we require any tweaking in the existing policies and programmes, who do we speak to, where do we seek money and who should we identify and those six pillars that our consultants have identified, frankly speaking has captured everywhere.

“Visitors, who come in for spiritual tourism, most times come for conferences, for spiritual healing and exhibition. It shouldn’t matter to the State what you have come for, what matters to the State is that visitors are coming, when they come, they see our city, they sleep in our hotels, they buy our foods, etc. So it’s all about tourism and entertainment,” Ayorinde said.

The Commissioner said that Lagos had continued to attract visitors from all over the globe due to its commercial activities and tourism potentials, adding that recently, the State was ranked as number one tourism destination in Africa for British residents ahead of South Africa and Kenya.

He added that that the plan by two top Hollywood actors to shoot movies in the State this year would further boost the State’s economy and generate employment for those in the movie business.

“Recently John Boyega, a British-Nigerian made his intention known to make a film which has a budget of about $25million (about N9billion). Also Lupita Nyong’o, a Kenyan born Hollywood actress will be shooting a film based on the adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s novel Americanah in Lagos and the budget for the film is even much bigger. We cannot quantify what the economic benefits of this would be.

“All these are coming at a time when Governor Ambode is doing everything possible to improve on the development of Tourism, Hospitality Entertainment and Sporting Excellence in the State,” he said.

He also disclosed that the State Government would be playing a key role during the visit of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, who is scheduled to visit Nigeria and also Lagos later in July this year, adding that the Ministry of Tourism had held series of meeting with the French Ambassador as well as the representatives of the French President to facilitate the visit.

Speaking on the proposed Lagos Museum project to be sited at the New Eko Court, Marina, Ayorinde revealed that the State has already received $400,000 out of the $600,000 grant donated by the Ford Foundation, adding that the entire fund would go into the design and preparation for the museum.

The Commissioner also said that during the year under review, the Ministry in partnership with the Federal Government stepped up its clampdown on piracy and indecent display of adult contents on the streets, saying that the government would not hesitate to prosecute those who display and patronise such materials going forward.