The Federal Government has hailed Lagos State for its innovative annual countdown event that ushers in the New Year, calling it the biggest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the commendation in his speech at the kickoff of this year’s event, at the Agege Stadium in Lagos, on Sunday.
He congratulated Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and the Government of Lagos State for rejigging the event into what is now known as the ‘One Lagos Fiesta’ that will take the countdown event to all the five Administrative Divisions in the state.
”Instead of the omnibus show that is usually held at the Bar Beach in Lagos, the State Government has now decided to organize the ‘One Lagos Fiesta’, starting from today, Dec. 27th 2015 and running through January 1st 2016.
”This will ensure that all the five Administrative Divisions of the state have a taste of the crossover celebrations. In addition to bringing the annual event closer to the people by staging it in Agege, Badagry, Epe, Ikorodu and the Bar Beach, the ‘One Lagos Fiesta’ will also showcase the multi-cultural endowment and arts of the various communities in the five administrative divisions of the state,” the Minister said.
He said the rejigging of the annual Lagos countdown event is in line with what the Federal government is planning.
”We intend to create a calendar of cultural and creative arts festivals across the country in such a way that we will have at least one festival of culture or creative arts every day of the year.
”The strategy we plan to adopt is simple: We will work with each of the 36 states of the Federation to give us a list of 10 cities where key festivals are held every year. That will translate to 360 cities, plus another five from each of the five areas constituting the Federal Capital Territory, making 365 cities. In other words, we will have a festival of Culture/Creative Arts every day of the 365 days in a year.
”The spinoffs from these festivals cannot be over-emphasised in terms of showing the nation’s rich and diverse culture, creating jobs, attracting tourists and enhancing security, as many otherwise idle hands will be put to work under the country’s very rich creative industry and cultural sector. This is also in line with the Federal Government’s ongoing efforts to diversify the nation’s economy and cut the dependency on oil,” the Minister said.
He expressed the hope that Lagos countdown event ”will become bigger and bigger and will form a major part of the annual Calendar of Festivals which we plan to unveil in the days ahead”.
While flagging off the ‘One Lagos Fiesta’, Gov. Ambode said the programme was in fulfillment of the promise he made during the electioneering campaigns to operate an all-inclusive government.
“We promised you that we are going to bring governance to the communities, we promised you that we are going to have a government of inclusion where all of you will be included in everything that we will be doing in Lagos State and that is why we are here tonight to say that One Lagos Fiesta is about all of you and is about the wealth of Lagos,” he said.
Prominent musicians, including Dbanj and Seun Kuti, performed at the Fiesta.