When Steve Ayorinde the former Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture in Lagos State issued a statement in January 2019 claiming that Lagos state earned N5bn from entertainment-related activities in December 2018, some people expressed doubts.
But with the success of 2019 ‘Detty December’ with all the hugely successful concerts all over Lagos last month, nobody should be in doubt anymore that creativity is now on speed dial in Lagos. N5bn revenue from tourism and entertainment will soon be chicken change.
About seven years ago december was dull in Lagos and hotels were empty once the Oriental Brothers headed for the East. Corporate events ended in November and everyone would start closing for Christmas.
All that changed in 2015! There was of course the controversial “Igbos in the Lagoon” statement and elections thereafter.
Akinwunmi Ambode became governor having run on using Tourism and Entertainment as one of his major planks (Projecf T.H.E.S.E.) He appointed Folarunsho Coker as the Commissioner of Tourism and he launched the “One Lagos Fiesta” as a way of Unifying Lagosians via entertainment, hence the popular tag of seeing Lagos as One Family.
It looked a little flappy at the onset but it succeeded in bringing people out to the five different locations for eight consecutive days with the big Countdown fibale at Eko Atlantic Waterfront every December 31st.
Lagos-based musicians joined the fray with different events and shows all over the metropolis and the timetable changed for good.
Traffic Logjam came along too so much that last December it was claimed that the Lekki-Ozumba Mbadiwe traffic lasted till 4am on some days.
Detty December has come to stay. When people from the Diaspora come home, they don’t leave Lagos immediately they head for a show.
When my family members arrived from America in December, they headed straight to Eko hotel within 24 hours. They attended two more shows before the New Year.
Trends have changed and credit also needs to go to Olamide the musician (My favourite musician) Davido and others who have shows every December for establishing Lagos as the entertainment capital of Africa.
Eko hotel is the only venue I allow my family to visit for shows because of security and loyalty.
So while.some may want to criticize Folly Coker for his current performance as the Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, we should also credit him for initiating something that has blossomed in Lagos.
Incidentally, Folly Coker was removed as Commissioner of Tourism just after one year. But the vision of One Lagos Fiesta was sustained by the two commissioners that took over from him along with two wonderful Permanent Secretaries.
This last December, the New Government of Babajide Sanwoolu and the Commissioner rebranded the event. It is now Greater Lagos Fiesta. I was impressed with the countdown proper on December 31st. Amazing stage and great acts. Congratulations Lagos for creating a successful tourism product.
Outside Carnival Calabar, which was created 16 years ago, Lagos has established something that tourism professionals can market worldwide.
Considering the fact that I was not an Insider in the making of One Lagos Fiesta, so i do not lay claim to any authority on the event. I have only been an interested observer with enough information on my side as a Travel Writer to have made some observations (I needed to insert this caveat before historians arrive on my timeline). If any fact is omitted or misrepresented, I am open to corrections.
My Job is to chronicle things and I have done just that.
Uko, a Travel and Tourism expert and journalist, is the Chief Promoter of Akwaaba Travel Market