One Lagos Fiesta: Still the Best, Biggest

Akinwunmi Ambode

Akinlolu Fadairo

My attention has been drawn to an article in last Sunday’s This Day under the Highlife column by one Lanre Alfred, in which the writer, neither attempting to review nor critique the last edition of One Lagos Fiesta, clearly betrayed his bias in passing jaundiced judgement on an event he obviously did not attend. Disappointingly, he then chose to compare a major state event which holds across five venues simultaneously in eight days and in its fourth edition last December with a one-off Old School music show apparently organised by the writer’s friends and benefactors.

One would not have bothered to attempt to defend a government project without being sent let alone respond to such an hatchet job, but seeing that rejoinders and complaints have become ceaseless to articles by this same writer, the last being the corrigendum from a director in Glo, against who Mr. Alfred had recently published an inaccurate account of his return to the telecoms giant, I thought a clarification was indeed necessary in order to educate the writer and draw the attention of his ‘employers’ to a growing pattern of misinformation and half-truths that This Day platform is being unwittingly turned to on account of Mr. Alfred’s bias and partisan interest.

In his inchoate article, the writer described OLF as a One Lagos Fiasco that dashed hopes and that previous editions were more successful than latter editions.

This of course is an ignorant summation and a deliberate falsification of facts apparently to please his paymasters. Mr. Alfred, therefore, deserves to be educated. To start with, how does a report on a music fiesta or any musical show at all fits into the focus of Highlife column, which by its own admission is all about the “amazing lifestyles of Nigeria’s rich and famous”? Or has a lifestyle column that stretches over three columns suddenly become a platform for journalistic jamboree and mumble jumble in order to feed the writer’s own lifestyle?
Anyway, there have only been four editions of OLF since 2015, an idea borne out of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s Project THESE (Tourism Hospitality Entertainment and Sports for Excellence) to give a sense of belonging to every part of the state.

OLF was therefore a deliberate improvement on the Lagos Countdown concert of the previous administration that held only on Crossover Night on December 31 and only at Bar Beach.

But then, the maiden edition of OLF among the four editions so far was clearly the smallest in terms of scope and execution, naturally being the first, perhaps experimental edition. It held only for five days and without the now phenomenally popular Lagos Grows Talent segment that chooses and rewards budding talents in different areas of creative endeavour.

As one of the technical partners that have been privileged to work on the OLF project since 2016, it is delusional for a writer to therefore say OLF was better in its early years. Which early years could the writer be referring to when it is the same team of technical partners together with government committee that has managed the last three events since 2016, anchoring each edition over eight days on four pillars: Children’s Corner that entertains kids from 11am till 5pm each day; the Lagos Grows Talent that pre-selects talented youths from all the five divisions of Lagos State, then give 10 finalists an opportunity to compete for cash prizes and honour on final day at Eko Atlantic City; the main concert each nigh for eight straight days and the development of local economy in each of the venues.

Instructively, the latest edition of OLF, whether the likes of Mr. Alfred believes it or not, was the biggest and the best since this people’s fiesta birthed in 2015. The Victoria Island zone had to be moved to Eko Atlantic in 2017 (from Bar Beach) because the old venue could no longer contain the last day crowd. Same Eko Atlantic was used for the last day of this recently-concluded last edition with more than 300,000 people; unprecedented and undoubtedly the biggest crowd of OLF and perhaps of any open-air pop concert in Lagos in recent years.

And on a stage that you had 2018’s biggest artiste, Burna Boy; Timaya who made his debut; Grammy nominee, Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 band; Olamide; Harrysong; Adekunle Gold; Teni; Mayorkun; Adewale Ayuba; Mr. Real; Slimcase; StylePlus; Sound Sultan and Humble Smith among others on Eko Atlantic stage alone, who else was Mr. Alfred hoping to see that possibly eluded him?

Thankfully, Ltv since 2016 has always broadcast live each day of OLF and all the five zones from 9pm to 1am aside last day’s ‘lock-down’ live telecast on five leading tv stations including Dstv, so how could anyone have missed the undeniable impact of OLF as the biggest musical fiesta in this part of the world except there are bile and bias tormenting the naysayers?
What is it that has continued to pain some people about the success of OLF?

If anyone desired an alternative as Mr. Alfred’s disjointed article seemed to have suggested, hasn’t an opportunity presented itself for a national musical fiesta to be done on a more grandiose scale? Why continue to be fixated on a state fiesta that runs smoothly on its own lane and on its own terms?

How ridiculous can it then be for a mere old-school jam to be compared to a fiesta that contained 40 major concerts over eight days where young talents won cash prizes and recognition with an Ikorodu indigene going away with a brand new car, first time in the history of OLF without a single breach of peace?

However, one is happy that Mr. Alfred betrayed his real intention when he wrote that OLF was not the only event that “made Lagos tick” (sic). Certainly, OLF was not designed to be a monopoly. Many of the A-list artistes like Burna Boy, Olamide and Adekunle Gold that graced the OLF stage had their own advertised shows and several others criss-crossed from one event to the other. It was all in the spirit of OLF 2018 theme of giving Lagos a December to Remember. But to compare a one-day old-school jam to a state-produced event with support of corporate giants like NB Plc, Pepsi, Eko Atlantic and GAC Motors will, quite frankly, be tantamount to comparing Mr. Alfred’s column to the Op Ed page of This Day newspapers. The difference is clear!

–––Fadairo, an events producer is a technical partner to OLF