For Lagosians, A Fiesta to Remember

A performance at the fiesta

A performance at the fiesta

For eight days, A-list artistes thrilled thousands of revellers across five locations in Lagos, as they prepared to usher in the New Year. Okechukwu Uwaezuoke reports

Surely, One Lagos Fiesta must have left a pleasant aftertaste in the palate of many. This annual end-of-the-year out-door party hit a new high with an unprecedented attendance of 300,000 participants from across Lagos State at its grand finale held at the Eko Atlantic City venue. And this, by far, surpassed a previous attendance record, which was believed to have attracted about 200,000 revellers.

Five different venues across the state had pulsated with the performances by both indigenous and globally-renowned Nigerian A-list artistes during the eight-day party, organised by the Lagos State Government. Indeed, the event – simply known by its abbreviation, OLF – was an interrupted fiesta of fun and excitement, which trailed into the early hours of the New Year.

As the musical show reached a climax with the grand finale at the Eko Atlantic City, revellers were treated to spectacular display of fireworks and had the opportunity of participating in a raffle draw. The raffle draw eventually produced Ayodeji Omoboye, a resident of Ikorodu, as winner of a brand new car, while consolations prizes were presented to other winners.

Before this grand finale, thousands of participants across the five venues of the state partied, while millions of viewers across the globe watched, thanks to not just the state-owned broadcast station, but also the state government’s social media platforms, which provided real-time updates from all the OLF centres.

A-list artistes like Burna Boy, Timaya, Olamide, Mayorkun, Grammy-nominee Seun Kuti, Teni the Entertainer, Harrysong, StylePlus, Sound Sultan, Adewale Ayuba, Mr. Real and Slim Case, among others, held court at the various OLF venues. There were also opportunities for a posse of upcoming artistes – mainly residents of the five old administrative divisions of Lagos: Ikorodu, Badagry, Ikeja, Lagos Island, and Epe – to showcase their talents and expand their visibility before mammoth crowds of revellers, a privilege they ordinarily wouldn’t have had the privilege of gathering.

Talking about talents, the state government has made no secret about its intention to shop for new talents. Hence, at the Lagos Grows Talents, LGT, segment of the event, a set of cyclists called GKB Unicyclists from Ikeja emerged the first-place winners, while Isaac Mike, whose stage name is Bright Izzy and Samuel Olanrewaju/ Joseph Oyebola, with the stage name Johnkay (both from the Epe centre of OLF) emerged the second and third place winners, respectively.

Besides the clinching of the N1 million star prize by the GKB Unicyclists as winners of the Lagos Grows Talents, the Unicyclists group of young boys and girls also made history by breaking the record of previous editions of the competition that had only produced rappers as winners.

To allay the safety concerns of revellers, top-notch security personnel ensured that things were in order across the five venues of the OLF. This attested to the fact that the state government would brook no incidences of any break down of law and other in any part of the state before, during and after the festive period.

Prior to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s tenure, the annual event used to be a one-day event, tagged the Lagos Countdown, which held only at the Bar Beach venue in Victoria Island on December 31.

All that changed since 2015 when Governor Ambode and his team favoured the expansion of the end-of-the-year revelry to a major fiesta holding in five venues simultaneously over a period spanning eight days.

According to the Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Steve Ayorinde, the concept is intended to provide a win-win situation to the three key stakeholders involved: the residents, the artistes and government. The people, according to him, are the major beneficiary of this fiesta, which in his opinion is now Africa’s biggest end-of-the-year concert. This is both as fun-lovers and as beneficiaries of the growth in local economy that the fiesta brings especially to areas like Badagry, Epe and Ikorodu.

Also among the beneficiaries are artistes, Ayorinde added. This, he explained, is because of not just because of fees they earn in the process, but also because of the opportunity they have to perform in multiple shows, especially before huge crowds in places where promoters would hardly have taken them to. For the state government, he continued, this is a platform to assure the populace of its intention to fulfil its promise of inclusiveness, consequently develop local economy, create joy and tourism opportunities for the people as well as reducing crime rates.

Already, there are many revellers, who also commend the fact that the fiesta has positively impacted on the economy of the state. To buttress this point, they cite its increase to five locations and to eight days, which means a total of 40 concerts held across the state at the end of it all, each year. An obvious fall-out of this is the impact on the informal economy. This is through the provision of direct and indirect employment, increased job opportunities for food hawkers, artisans and above all, boost the security of the entire state compared to what it used to be in the past before the annual event.

Ayorinde had at the pre-event press conference – held at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, Ikeja, which was attended by some of A-list artistes billed to perform at the event – assured a coterie of journalists of a hugely successful outing.

“As a government, we are encouraged by the noticeable achievements recorded as a result of hosting this event and we are taking advantage of this year’s edition to fête millions of Lagosians who have supported this initiative running for the fourth consecutive year,” he told the journalists at the conference.

“The One Lagos Fiesta draws parallel with other international crossover events in the world, especially during the countdown night of December 31, and with the unique features associated with the fiesta, it is anticipated to attract over two million direct participants across the state and over 90million viewers via live television and live streaming on social media.”

The idea was to leverage on the strategic position of Lagos as the continent’s economic and socio-cultural hub, which throbs with a vibrant art scene. Indeed, it had always been the tradition of Ambode’s administration to use such opportunities to drive development and market the state’s potentials to domestic and foreign investors who would, in turn, contribute meaningfully to his vision of transforming Lagos into Africa’s model megacity.

With several other innovations, including the most recent, which saw a raffle draw winner going home with a brand new car, OLF without a doubt will remain a major legacy project of Governor Ambode, who though trained as an accountant, has shown so much goodwill to the arts and culture community by raising the profile of the sector in the state.

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