By Jimoh Babatunde
It was a celebration of the beauty, culture and traditional heritage of the people as the first ever Lagos carnival held amid fun fare on Monday, at the prestigious Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos.
The carnival was part of the event marking the 3rd Lagos Black Heritage Festival. It was flagged off with the arrival of the queen of the carnival, which rode on a motorbike. The Tafawa Belewa Square venue of the event was pack- full with people from all walks of life, who trooped the venue to catch a glimpse of the celebration.
But despite the glamour that trailed the event, it was however bedeviled with traffic congestion.
Earlier, before the event took place, the state commissioner for Tourism, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, has promised that Lastma hadÂ been mobilized to ensure that traffic hold up is reduced to the barest minimum, but this was not to be as Lagosians and others had terrible time getting into the TBS and getting out with the traffic pouring into most of the major roads in the Island.
Out the traffic problem associated with easy movement, lack of theme for the carnival itself was a major set back for the event as the over 3660 children drawn from 61 schools in the state paraded in costumes not linked to any visible theme.
At the same venue last year during the Eyo festival, the crowd control was perfect as there were restrictions to the main bowl of the TBS which made it possible for people to have proper view of activities, but that was not the case on Monday as the crowd had easy access to the main bowl.
Aside from these notable flaws, the Lagos State Government should be commended for organizing the 3rd Lagos Black Heritage Festival which incorporates different activities like colourful cultural display of dance, music, cultural float (Boat regatta), fashion and pageantry well as the carnival.
According to the governor, the bumper LBHF, which incorporates different activities, was a deliberate act on the part of the state government to establish an Easter fiesta package that would put Lagos on the world tourist map. â€˜We have deliberately combined these events _Â the heritage festival, the boat regatta and the Lagos State carnival into a week _ long activities that signifies the emergence of Lagos into the international tourists calendar in the season of Easter, which is a global holiday period.â€
For some of those at the boat regatta and the carnival, the state government needs to be commended. Mr. Ikechi Uko said the events put together are commendable, â€œbut having seen the carnivalÂ in Calabar, I know it is possible to approach the height that the Notting hill carnival has. And Lagos has what it takes to achieve that height, the money, the exposure and the capacity. I expect that the subsequent editions will be better than this. This is a good attempt.
He added â€œI expected to see adult participation that is missing. In other carnivals I have seen more than once, the majority of the participants are adults, a lot of big guys. I also expect improvement in the quality of the costumes and I also think the choreography has to be worked on.
As for the costumes, it was learnt that they were all made by the Lagos state Skill Acquisition Center. This is one of the benefits of tourism as the people get empowered. The power of tourism empowerment was evident at the various points where activities took place from the Beach fronts, TBS, National Theater to Badagry, youth were seen making quick business of printing fanciful Tee shirts, while others made money vending food, drinks and other items.
The beauty pageant of the carnival was another sure way of empowering the youth. From about twelve young ladies that took part in the competition,Â Miss Tabi Banjoko won a whooping sum of N2.5m and a brand-new Rio car as theÂ the winner of the Lagos Carnival beauty queen competition, just as the first runner, Adetutu Hassan received N1 million while the second runner up, Delphin Okobah,Â gotÂ a sum of N750, 000 from Eco-Bank.
Merignac Adepoju, Executive Director, Regional Head for Lagos / South West, said â€œOne of the pivot goals of the founding fathers of Ecobank Group is to impact on the social and economic development of any market that we work in, and if we areÂ to impact on the socio-economic development of any market it means that culture is part of it.
The language is part of it, the people, the culture is very critical to the people, and so what we are doing here today is very important to us as a group, as a bank, as aÂ people, we are celebrating ourselves.â€
She added that had supported Lagos state government in the past in the celebration of the peopleâ€™s culture as they were part of Eyo festival last year, â€œthis carnival has a lot of potential for tourism, and if you look at some nations, their revenue comes from tourism, as you continue to run the event you will find out that tourism brings in a large chunk of the revenue, it will help to boost the economy of the state and Nigeria as a country.