Night Club Owners Appeal For Reopening, Promise To Abide By COVID 19 Protocols

by Olamilekan Okeowo

Another appeal has gone out to the Lagos State Government by Night Club Owners for the reopening of night clubs and Lounges in the state.

Representatives of owners of night clubs in the State made this appeal last week when they visited the leadership of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture in Alausa, Ikeja to lament the inactivity in the sector since the lockdown was put in place last year to checkmate the spread of the COVID 19 pandemic.

In a passionate appeal presented by a Solicitor to the visitors, Toyin Sonoiki, on behalf of the club owners, they pleaded with the State Governor to consider their plight, their dependents as well as the welfare of thousands of their staff. They pledged to submit their operations for regulation under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture.

“We have continued to pay our staff and still pay some other statutory bills even though we have shut down our businesses a year ago; to say that we’re running at a loss is even an understatement, that’s why we’re pleading for consideration from the government,” he said.

The Night Club Owners promised to join hands with the government to identify clubs not complying with COVID-19 protocols, noting that the State Government should not compromise the security of lives and property of its residents.

The Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, while welcoming the visitors, empathised with the night club operators, explaining that the State Government understands the pains, the financial losses, and the employment threat which the inactivity in the sector have generated.

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She lamented the inability of practitioners in the nightclub business to come together as a unified group for ease of interaction and exchange of correspondence, saying that the night club owners do not belong to any umbrella body or recognised association known to the Ministry.

This, the Commissioner said, made it difficult for the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, to relate with them, while also accommodating their position on some salient issues as it affects their operations.

Akinbile-Yussuf expressed the fear of another surge in the reported cases of COVID-19, saying that the State Government is now more circumspect than before so that its efforts and successes already recorded in stemming the spread of the virus will not be thwarted.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Solomon Bonu explained that the present emphasis is on regulating the activities of the operators of nightclubs in the State.

Bonu affirmed that some clubhouses are still in operation contrary to the directive from the government, describing the development as very daring and illegal.

Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Princess Adenike Adedoyin-Ajayi, expressed the willingness of the State Government to keep the club owners in business but for the outbreak of COVID-19.

“You are a major contributor to the State’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, most importantly the night economy of Lagos. We desire to allow you to operate so that you can continue to perform your civic responsibilities, but the situation we found ourselves in was unexpected, hence the position of the State government,” she said.

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The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor, Mr. Tunji Seymour said that the Ministry was prepared to “go hard” on recalcitrant operators, peradventure the Governor approves their reopening.

Recall that Akinwale Oluwaleimu, an event and entertainment consultant and Chief Executive Officer of House 30 Lounge in Ikeja had made a similar appeal to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to consider reopening event centers in the state.

In a letter he addressed to the Lagos State Governor, he appealed for the government’s intervention and support for the entertainment and hospitality sectors.

“The entertainment and hospitality sectors are in dire need of government intervention and support as those two sectors are, arguably, the most hit by the pandemic, most especially because Lagos serves as the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria and probably West Africa and huge investment had been made by practitioners of this sectors and it’s been hell for them for about a year now” he had appealed.

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