The upgrade of Tinubu Square by the Lagos State Government takes the state a step closer to the realisation of the present administration’s goal of making the state a tourist destination in Africa, Peace Obi reports
Tinubu Square among other historical sites in Lagos State has in the past witnessed changes in its name or structure. Originally known as Ita Tinubu, was later renamed Independence Square and lastly, Tinubu Square. The latest upgrade by the Lagos State Government on both the structure and infrastructural facilities in the square has left it with an international look and capable of competing favourably with the likes of Tyler Davidson Fountain in Ohio, America.
Located in the heart of the state’s busiest business district, the Tinubu Square is surrounded by beautiful high risings, housing corporate organisations, entrepreneurs in different lines of businesses. Standing conspicuously on Broad Street, at what can be described as centre point of the Island, the Tinubu Square serves as the major entrance to the popular Idumota Market, Macy Children Hospital, CMS Bookshop, Marina Street – the home of most Nigerian banks and other corporate organistions, among others. The open space landmark which is located in Broad Street, Lagos Island, has always occupied a significant place in the history of Lagos State. Named in memory of Madam Efunroye Tinubu, a business magnet, who among her exploits in business and politics fought against European slave traders, now wears a new look.
The Tinubu Square, previously iron-fenced with just two flowing fountains, life –size statue of Madam Tinubu, flowers and tropical trees, in its present upgraded state wears an irresistible look. Freed from the grip of beggars, hawkers, roadside traders and motorists, now in addition to the iron-fence is barricaded with neatly-painted white iron bars to prevent easy access to vandals. And standing tall in the square are cenotaphs with different historical figures mounted on them with brief information on each, such as the Kokoro the Blind Drummer and the dancer. Among the interesting sites are the beautifully designed Zebra water fountain standing in front of a cenotaph-like fountain, with creatively-sculptured eagle wings of different sizes mounted on it. As though paying homage to the king of birds, though inanimate, birds of all sizes were sighted perching and resting on the broad wings. And with a 24-hour power supply, the night view of the square adds colour to the beautiful sight and making it even more appealing.
This reporter who visited the Tinubu Square recently observed that Lagosians do not only love the sight, but that many could not resist the urge to stop and catch a glimpse of the Square. The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode who in his campaign promises had hinted that tourism would be given prominence in his administration’s economic drive, recently took a pragmatic step towards fulfilling his promise. Speaking at the inauguration of the upgraded Tinubu Square Fountain in Lagos, recently, the governor reiterated his administration’s resolve to preserve cultural and historical sites across the state and to develop them to international standard to boost tourism and employment generation.
Represented by the Special Adviser and Acting Commissioner of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Adebimpe Akinshola, the governor said that the decision to renovate Tinubu Square was informed by the need to upgrade it to a level that befit the status of the Lagos Central Business District (CBD). The governor also disclosed that the development was also part of the present administration’s plan to develop the Marina and Onikan axis to world class tourism destination.
“All over the world, monuments are erected as a way of preserving human history and upholding societal values and ethics. They are testament of selfless leadership, valour and bravery of great men and women who have contributed significantly to the development of mankind.”
Referring to the Madam Tinubu’s statue, the governor said, “As we all know, this magnificent monument was erected in memory of a valiant woman, Madam Efunroye Tinubu, the first Iyalode of Egbaland and one of the greatest merchants of colonial Lagos. It is a celebration of her exploits in the business world and contribution to the foremost status to which our state has attained in the world of commerce and for us as a government and in line with our administration’s commitment to harness the tourism potentials of our state, historical monuments such as this will continue to be given a face lift and outlook.”
Appealing for corporation of the residents in ensuring the protection of the site against vandalism and distortion of its historical and tourism value, the governor said that it was the collective responsibility of all to preserve the rich cultural heritage in the state for the present generation and generations yet unborn.
Commending the efforts of the Amobde government, a resident, Otunba Dada Olatunjo said it was a great delight for him to witness what he described as the restoration of the glory of Tinubu Square. Sharing a brief history of the Tinubu Square, Olatunji told THISDAY that the Tinubu Square had always enjoyed exceptional look with flowing fountains, artistic designs and other monuments that makes it outstanding. The 60-year-old man however said that the policy inconsistency on the part of different government, lack of maintenance and neglect have been responsible for the square inability to attract tourists before now.
According to him, “In fact, I am saying a big ‘thank you’ to this present government for improving this square and bringing back its glory. As an elder, I saw the original beauty of this place. This upgrade is good for Lagosians in many ways. At least, it has brought back some memories of good things about Lagos State, although with a modern touch.”
Speaking further, Olatunji who argued that the Tinubu Square would not only be beneficial to Lagosians, the international community hinted that the recent upgrade has equipped it with all it takes to attract tourists from all over the world. “You see in the square, apart from the statue of Madam Tinubu, it also has the statue of Kokoro the Blind Drummer. He was a blind but talented drummer and singer. He moved unaided from place to place entertaining people with his music. In fact, for those who read Cyprian Ekwensi’s book, ‘The Drummer Boy’, that book actually told the real life story of late Benjamin Aderounmu. This was a young man who despite being blind defied his condition to discover his gift and used it to make people happy and somehow helped himself with it. And through the former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, the man was immortalised. And I can tell you that the life of that man has a lot of lessons to teach us, especially the youths,” he said.
Extolling the Ambode-led government’s initiatives to harness the tourism potentials in the Lagos and encourage investment in tourism infrastructure, Olatunji said that the government’s efforts would go far in preserving the state’s history and heritage. According to him, the administration’s efforts would make it easier for the younger generation to have a good understanding of their history and heritage.
For a banker and a resident of Ogun State, Mr. Remi Adetutu, the new development in the Island shows a government that pays attention to its environment and willing to tap the various resources at its disposal toward the good of all. Stating that right action in the right direction would often attract a corresponding response, Adetutu noted that though the fountain has been there for a long time, it has never attracted the attention of passersby as it presently does. “This is one of the positive changes we want to see in this country. People need to know that Nigeria is moving forward, especially Lagos State. Considering its economic status in the country, it is living up to its expectation. This is a beautiful sight to behold and a good development we hope other states will borrow a leaf from Lagos State and do likewise in their respective states,” he said.
Observing the neat environment devoid of hawkers, traders and indiscriminate parking of vehicles by motorists the banker said, it will now make it easier for people to appreciate the beauty the fountain exudes. “The present arrangement of things around, now makes it easier for people to appreciate its beauty. People can go over there and take pictures, show it to their friends and even send it abroad. And with the use of technology, it will be a lot easier for people to post and share some positive things about this country.
“Anybody who sees this will certainly like it. People can actually recommend this place to their friends for their leisure. As it is now, those who go abroad to take selfies at different fountains and waterfalls around the globe, they need to realise that we now have such interesting sites in Lagos. We don’t have to go far for our relaxation needs anymore. I just hope other states will emulate Lagos State Government and jointly rise to the development need of this country,” Adetutu said.
Describing the new look of the Tinubu Square to be lovely but strange, Patience Akpama revealed that the sight of a beautiful fountain as Tinubu Square is not common in Nigeria. Stressing that the recent upgrade by the state government has equally given it an international outlook, Akpama noted that it will serve as a good image of positive development in Lagos State and the country as a whole. Speaking on the benefits of the fountain to government and the people, the lady said, “People can use this place for different purposes. It can serve as a relaxation centre, people can use it as a poster, it can as well be used as a background for pictures. For the state government, the more people come around to use the site, the more revenue the state will generate from it,” she said.
Envisaging the location of the fountain would also be an added advantage to the government and its users, Akpama said tourists will soon discover this place. According to her, the quality of services available in the historical site is capable of attracting both local and foreign tourists. And in her words, “this site has all it takes to serve as an international tourist centre.” Adding that the place would soon become a big tourist destination, Akpama said, “Looking at the location, even when people come here to relax, they may use the opportunity to pick one or two things from the market. So, I think it will benefit businesses around here, especially the traders. But I just feel for those traders who were displaced by the renovation work on the site.”
With the presence of the officials of the Lagos State’s Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI), the Nigeria Police – all keeping surveillance on the site, THISDAY observed that Tinubu Square has finally lost its usual hustling and bustling, dirt and uncoordinated business activities that previously defined the place. Now, in its new look, it enjoys a calmer, cleaner and serene environment. And speaking on the on the implication of the new look on businesses, a textile dealer, who simply identified himself as Francis, said though he likes the improvement on the fountain, he however lamented that business has dropped since the renovation work started. According to Francis, “Since our customers are no longer allowed to park their vehicles in front of our shops, some of them find it difficult to cope. It is usually difficult for those who make bulk purchases to move from shop to shop with their loads. Sales have not been as a good as it used to be, but I am hopeful that things will improve soon,” Francis said.
Spreading the serenity of orderliness to adjourning streets like Alli and Bamgbose, the shops were not only organised, the commercial bus drivers were seen in a file waiting for their turn to load their vehicles. Alli Street which leads to the popular Macy Children Hospital, previously was almost impassable as a result of the activities of roadside traders, street urchins, now enjoys free of flow of both vehicular and human traffics. Speaking with Toafik Owokoniran who recalled the ugly state of the streets said, the new arrangement has actually worked in his favour. According to him, his customers can now locate him easily.
“I am happy with the way Lagos State Government is going in the area of development. The work they did in that place is very commendable. In fact, you never can tell how this singular act of the governor will go in projecting the image of Nigeria in the minds of our brothers and sisters living outside the country and even the foreigners themselves. I am sure that by the time our people in London or America see this, they will be happy. Some will even boast to their friends that Lagos State has turned into London,” Owokoniran said.