Drawing Inspiration from Lagos @ 50 Campaigns

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As the government and people of Lagos State prepare to celebrate the golden jubilee of the creation of the city-state, Raheem Akingbolu writes on the relevance of the inspiring campaigns being deployed to sensitise the public

 All over the world, one key element of good governance is communication as it helps government at all levels to connect the public. However, until recently, it was not well pronounced in the nation’s public sector. While corporate players maximise advertising and other elements of communication for marketing, only few governments and their agencies see marketing tools as important to good governance.

 However, Lagos State appears to have stood out in exploring core communication mix to market its programmes. As the state sets to mark its 50th year anniversary, a pragmatic approach has been put in place to sensitise the citizenry on what to expect. Aside jingles and media buzz, Lagos State government is working with a public relations and marketing company, PRM Africa to celebrate Nigerians and inspire Lagosians.

To achieve this, the agency has creatively lined up ‘A’ frames with pictures of Lagosians who have reached the zenith of their chosen careers to inspire, not only residents of Lagos but visitors to the city. Today, all over Lagos, faces of the celebrated Lagosians are erected on electric poles and other public places.  The beauty of it all lies in the fact that it cut across disciplines and sectors. With the inspiring campaign, Lagos has thus demonstrated that the city is not only a land of surplus for businessmen and academics but also for artisans and players in the entertainment industry. 

 

Among other people, the colouful framed signposts celebrate the likes of Lateef Jakande, Mobolaji Johnson, Aliko Dangote and Jumoke Ajagunna, popularly called Jumoke Oniburedi. While Jakande and Jonson are former governors, Dangote is a business magnate and Jumoke is a bread seller who was suddenly catapulted to the top by happenstance.  It can only happen in Lagos!

In an interview with THISDAY, the State Commissioner for Information and Satrategies, Steve Ayorinde, attributed the conceptualisation of the campaign to the creative ingenuity of the state governor, Akinwumi Ambode, who he said, creatively thought on how to celebrate Lagosians.

“As a governor that always thinks out of the box when it comes to governance that will be all inclusive, Governor Akinwumi Ambode saw the need to play up the Lagos success story and decided to use outstanding individuals as a springboard to showcase the state’s excellent status,”

The commissioner pointed out that the state was the first state in the history of outdoor advertising in Nigeria to use ‘A’ frame structure to announce its programmes. He traced the origin of the concept to last year when the state deplored same strategy with picture of President Muhammadu Buhari, who was billed to come to Lagos to commission some projects. The Vice President, Yemi Osibajo later represented the president on the occasion. 

 

Imports of the campaign…

According to Ayorinde, the campaign is designed not only to serve as a build up to the celebration but to inspire other residents. “As a result of the efficacy of the concept, it is being repeated this year as a multifaceted structure to adorn the streets with bright images and messages of admiration, success and inspiration on personalities, who have one way or the other contributed to the success of the state.

“It is a campaign of inspiration, a campaign to celebrate our best and an idea conceptualises to tell the world about the uniqueness of the Lagos city. Lagos is a multicultural and resourceful city in Africa with lots of potentials,”

The commissioner however pointed out that through well-articulated messages, the frames, which are in batches first rolled out images of entertainment icons, followed by politicians, business owners and Lagosians in public service.

“The strategy is born out of the decision to celebrate the living icons while another platform is in the offing to honour the departed icons, who had contributed to the growth of the state and benefitted from the opportunities inherent in the state,”

He added that the state has also rolled out short video kits, which are being aired on television to echo the same message on Lagos success story.  

Also speaking on the concept, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Habeeb Haruna, likened the state with New York and California and described the concept as symbolic messages put together to ginger Lagosians.

“With the campaign, Lagos is simply saying that whoever you are and regardless of wherever you come from, if you determine and willing to live according to the rule, the sky is the limit – you will succeed in Lagos. Now that we are celebrating the success story of the city that has given so much to the people, it is natural to celebrate the people that have been part of that success story. Lagos is an excellent state and it is natural again to celebrate the excellent people that have witnessed and contributed to the success story.’’  

 

Meanwhile, a United Kingdom based educationist and development consultant, Dr. Peter Ogudoro, has described Lagos as America of Nigeria. He said Lagos is a unique city that welcome people from diverse backgrounds and provide level plain field for all to succeed, provided they can play by the rule.

“Lagos is a city of opportunities for determined people who can play by the rule. It is a city that can take people from ground zero to king palace where they can wine and dine with the kings. With the ‘A’ frame campaign, the state is simply telling the residents that if those that are being celebrated can make it, regardless of your present circumstance, you too can make it in the city. By celebrating the icons, regardless of wherever they come from, the handlers of the commercial city are simply saying wherever you are from, Lagos welcomes you,” he added.

 

Feedback…

Chief Brand Strategist of PRM Africa, Mr. Mike Dada in a telephone conversation with THISDAY explained that the campaign looks beyond those in white collar careers to artisans on the streets who have carefully and dutifully explored the opportunities in Lagos to excel in their respective areas of human endeavours.

“With the campaign, Lagos State government celebrates the ingenuity and doggedness of Lagosians as well as the dream-maker’s status of the global capital city of the black race. It celebrates road side mechanics, artists, top business owners and politicians. Of course it also celebrates Lagosians who have reached a prime position in the public sector like Rear Admiral Itunu Hotonu, the first Nigerian woman to get to that position,’’

The expert also pointed out that Governor Ambode sees the Lagos golden jubilee as an opportunity to show the world that Lagos State has capacity to nurture talents and groom people from nothing to something big. “In addition to the celebration and immediate fix of today, Governor Ambode as a public finance expert and a creative juggernaut  is futuristic as he’s welcoming suggestions on preparing a solid foundation for the next 50years.what kind of infrastructures, health system, education facilities, environment, transportation ecosystem among others Lagosians should be envisaging for the generations yet unborn in comparison to global cities like New York, London, Singapore or Beijing?”

Speaking on the feedback the campaign has generated, Dada said from the first day it was rolled out, the inspiring messages and pictures of prominent individuals on the streets have continued to generate conversation around the people, the city and the anniversary. He also added that the agency receives suggestions daily on how to deepen the campaign.

 

A timely celebration…

Described by the Co-chair of the Lagos @ 50 Planning Committee, Mr. Habeeb Fasinro as “a celebration of Lagosians, by Lagosians, for Lagosians” the 50th anniversary celebration is without mincing words a milestone event that ushers in a golden and unique opportunity to document and capture for posterity, in print and on audio-visual, different aspects of the history and progress of the State as well as the contributions of its icons and builders.

For Lagos, observers believe that the need for celebration is pertinent. Those who share this sentiment are of the opinion that of all the 12 states created in 1967 by General Yakubu Gowon, only Lagos State has remained indivisible. It is also believed that from inception till date, Lagos has continued to show the way forward in its commitment to a Nigeria where no one is denied opportunities for self actualization on mundane considerations. According to a writer, the poetic tag of Eko gb’ole, ogb’ole (Lagos harbors all manners of people)   is a metaphor that quite defines the status of Lagos as a melting pot in Nigeria.

Lagos’ cosmopolitan nature makes it a basket of paradox. The burgeoning Mega City is home to all sorts of people. It is in Lagos that you get to meet some of the hardest working people on the face of the earth. But it is also here that you get to meet people who live on the fast lane and flaunt wealth without any visible source of livelihood. The former constitute bulk of icons, administrators, business mogul, literary giants, legal luminaries, social and civil actors currently on display boards across the state.

The question might be asked, why the grand celebration? The State Government has decided to make Lagos Golden Jubilee anniversary a grand one because the ‘Center of Excellence’ does not do things in half measures. Apart from this, all indicators point to the fact that the metropolis has good reasons to celebrate. Lagos is already a megacity of about 21 million people with a strong internal brand. If Lagos was a state in the United States, its GDP would be higher than the one of 14 other states, including New Mexico, Delaware, North Dakota. The GDP of Lagos State alone is already bigger than the GDP of Kenya, and bigger than the combined GDPs of 25 other African countries.

Inside the federated states of Nigeria, Lagos contributes 25% to the national GDP (or 32% to non-oil national GDP) while being the smallest of the 36 states. Lagos is 65% of Nigerian tourism, 50% of national port revenue, over 70% of international air traffic, and 50% of national energy consumption.  In the upcoming year, Lagos is poised to become the third megacity in the world just after Tokyo and Mumbai. That’s a solid foundation to build on.

Fortunately, the State has a development plan and steadily but surely building a foundation for the progress of the state with varied futuristic public policies targeting development of state’s public infrastructure and utilities and at the same time focusing on putting an end to anything that could blight the development plan of the state.

From any angle one chooses to look at it, Lagos is presently moving in the right path and the future, no doubts, looks bright. The Golden Jubilee and all the apparatus being put in place to make it a memorable celebration is a signal of better things to come and a clarion call on all Lagosians to wake up and renew their loyalty to the state that has given them so much.