Lagos at 50. A necessity or a nuisance?

Lagos turns fifty this year and there are a whole slew of events that have been planned to celebrate. The events include the following:

Fela on Broadway

Water Regatta with Joss Stone as a headliner

Lagos Dance exhibition

Comedy festival

Lagos Carnival

Interfaith prayer

Secondary school debating competition

A Lagos City International conference

Children’s day festival

A Public art program across the city

Regardless of the Easter festivities, this is not a festive period. Nigeria is experiencing a recession that has affected many, businesses are struggling, people have lost their jobs and we may not have seen the worst of this.

Celebrating Lagos in such a grandiose way is excessive.

Lagos is definitely Nigeria’s economic success story; Lagos has the highest concentration of businesses and entrepreneurs. According to Lagos State Governor Ambode Lagos generated $91 billion in 2016 and this is the highest internally generated revenue (IGR) compared to the other states in Nigeria. In the past 50 years Lagos has reached several milestones but a ‘Lagos @ 50’ celebration should be sensitive to the current socio-economic climate. It should consist of fewer events and include more sustainable initiatives.

How about an inclusive grant scheme (not loans) for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) that may not meet the usual criteria for bank loans? A grant scheme for artists, musicians, filmmakers and creatives would also be useful. ‘Lagos @ 50’ could launch a series of relief initiatives to help groups at risk such as the homeless and unemployed.

The truth is that people are struggling, artists, entrepreneurs, employees — everyone.

Let’s celebrate our successes but also use it as an opportunity to support Lagosians in a sustainable way.

‘Lagos @ 50’ should have affordable housing for it’s predominantly under 40 population, which it presently does not.

‘Lagos @ 50’ should have areas with free or affordable wi-fi across the city.

‘Lagos @ 50’ should have a fashion district, modern and contemporary art galleries, a museum, a world class film studio, a purpose built concert arena and so much more.

Lagos is one of Nigeria’s main cultural and creative hubs with a large concentration of art, music, fashion and theatre. How can the next few years build on the successes of the creative industry?

‘Lagos @ 50’ should spark discourse on how to define the next 50 years. How can Lagos be more inclusive? What structures need to be in place to reduce extreme income inequality?

There is reason to celebrate Lagos’ 50 year journey but unfortunately there are just as many reasons not to.

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