Lagos State will tap the full potential of its diverse cultures and tourism in its determination to diversify the economy, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has said.
He spoke at the Ikeja Division’s Colloquium to mark the state’s 50 year celebration, which took place at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, on Saturday.
He said the Golden Jubilee celebration was an opportunity to tap the state vast potential in tourism to create new investment and jobs for youths.
At the event in which the co-Chairman of the Lagos @50 Festival, Prof. Wole Soyinka, made a brief appearance, Ambode, who was represented by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Housing, Mrs. Aramide Giwason, said the government would ensure that all divisions of the state display their rich cultural heritage.
On the theme of the colloquium: “Hidden cultures and multiple identities in Lagos”, a speaker, Dr. Olu. Adewale Adeniran, urged the government to focus on Badagry, which he described as a treasure trove of culture and hub of tourism.
Adeniran, who is the director of the Osogbo, Osun State-based Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU), said most cultures and languages, especially in that axis, might go into extinction, if government failed to intervene.
He called on the government, to, in conjunction with the Federal Government, begin the process of ensuring that the Sangbeto-Sowero, was listed by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as a global culture.
He recommended that the government should begin to build employment opportunities around local industries involved in creation of the regalia and costumes of some of the masquerades, and the transfer of knowledge of the chants, incantations and songs inherent in some of them.
He said some of the cultures and languages of the people were under intense threat from “imported religions” like Christianity and Islam, which, he added,were out to “kill any form or trace of paganism in the lives of the new converts in their quest for a new promise of heaven”.
He said if government was desirous of building a culture-based and tourism economy, it should begin by improving on the road network and construct decent and affordable hotels around Ajara, Badagry, Porto Novo and Topo and Igolo, and encourage tourists to some of these sites that were almost extinct.
Welcoming dignitaries to the event, Chairman of the Ikeja Division of the festival, Chief Olawale Cole, said the colloquium was designed to bring to the front-burner the hidden cultures and multiple identities of the division as part of the investment and tourism potential of the area.
He promised that the committee would continue to brainstorm to bring the cultural potential of other nationalities that made up the division to the fore.
Speaking at the event, Soyinka’s co-chairman Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi praised the governor for his commitment to culture and tourism.
He said the sector, if properly managed, could generate huge direct and indirect employment for youths.
He noted that the network of roads and the light-up Lagos project, which is going round the state, would change the face of the economy and stimulate the private sector to drive the process.
Hailing Adeniran for his “brilliant paper”, Gbadamosi said the colloquium would stimulate debate that would lead to the revival of some of the cultures and practices threatened by modernity.
He thanked the Ikeja Division for blazing the trail and contributing richly to the celebration.