By Joy Umukoro
For two days, December 2 and 3, 2016, thousands of fun-seekers and revellers trooped to the Ahmadu Bello Way in Victoria Island, Lagos, to participate in the Lagos Street Party, an event put together by White Star Entertainment, with the support of the state government.
The event was put together to welcome the Yuletide with glamour and help showcase the rebirth of the new Lagos.
Organisers of the event had announced that no fewer than a million people would attend each edition of the show. But the programme started on a low note. Not many people were at the venue until the evening of the first day. Some analysts explained that the current economic challenges in the country might have discouraged people from attending the event. But such doubts evaporated by late evening, as large crowds took over the venue to enjoy themselves.
By the time the carnival ended on Sunday, it was obvious that it had been a hugely successful enterprise.
Some roads around the venue, including the strategic Ahmadu Bello Way on Victoria Island, were closed for the carnival. Naturally, this ignited some anxiety among Lagos residents who feared that the closure might lead to a gridlock. But in spite of the large turnout at the street party, there was just mild traffic around the venue.
There was also no record of violence or crime during the carnival.
Among those at the carnival was Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode. Other top government functionaries at the venue were Commissioner for Information & Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde; Attorney-General, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, as well as the acting Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Olarenwaju Elegushi, and his tourism counterpart, Mrs. Adebimpe Akinsola.
Some of the disk jockeys that dished out good music at the carnival, which had many youths and children in attendance, were DJ Humblesmith, DJ Spinall, and DJ Lambo.
On Saturday, artistes like 9ice, Dammy Krane, Fatai Valentine, Sunkanmi and some others thrilled the audience with their performances. And on Sunday, it was the turn of Olamide, Phyno, MI, Eedris Abdulkareem and Sule Adio. The artistes thrilled the crowd on two stages at both ends of Ahmadu Bello way.
Kaffy, who was among the performers, tutored the youths on how dancing as a profession could engage the mind positively and fetch money for the performer. The first say also featured a variety of cultural parades, acrobatic displays and lots of music.
Founder of White Star Entertainment, Mr. Akin Akinyelure, who spearheaded the event, said the different shows were designed primarily to bring dynamism to the party and create a platform for individuals and corporate bodies to exhibit their potential and market their products.
The street party also afforded artisans the opportunity to showcase their skills. There were 150 stalls taken by both big and small brands, including Guinness and Designer Rice from Allen Avenue.
The carnival stimulated consumption of various items, ranging from drinks, food, household items and clothing, just as there were marketing activities by various service providers. But the organisers said the street party wasn’t just about wining and dining, explaining that it was also about commerce and driving the economic potentialities inherent in the Centre of Excellence by attracting investors through arts, tourism and entertainment.
Ayorinde said the carnival offered real entertainment, live music, diverse cuisine and creative indigenous games in a beautiful environment, which gave people of different nature diverse choices.
“It indeed showcased and celebrated the renaissance of Lagos, Africa’s model megacity, and the continent’s fifth largest economy. It is really a carnival of our values, potential and riches in cultural heritage,” he said.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Arts and Culture, Akinsola, said the street party was a fulfilment of Ambode’s dream to transform the tourism sector, noting that the Ambode administration had already come up with THESE, an acronym, to promote Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment, Sports for Excellence in Lagos.
In her words, the street party was a huge success: “The priority of the state government is to make the state one of the most visited tourist destinations in Africa.” The street carnival was a clear expression of Ambode’s determination to make Lagos a home for visitors globally.
“The Ambode administration, in its characteristic proactive approach, has laid out various programmes for the social and economic benefits of Lagos residents during the Yuletide. Already, we are getting enviable results from all these programmes that the Ambode administration put in place to transform the tourism sector in the state.
“There are tourism-related events like the street carnival and One Lagos Fiesta, an eight-day programme structured to count down to the New Year. These events are very veritable platforms meant to engage Nigerians in Diaspora coming home for vacation and families that might not be able to travel for Christmas due to the prevailing economic situation in the country.”