Closing Ceremony Of The Lagos Black Heritage Festival Week
Apr 9, 2012 - Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have now come to the end of the year 2012 Lagos Carnival, a fitting finale to the Lagos Black Heritage Festival Week. You have seen Eko for Show! Lagos at its glorious best!
I congratulate all of you that are here today. I congratulate especially those who have been a part of this carnival since its rejuvenation started 3 years ago.
When the Lagos Carnival achieves it pre-eminent objectives you will be able to say that you were there at the Lagos Carnival from the very beginning!
The Black Heritage Week that climaxes with Lagos Carnival is our own answer to tourism as a critical driver for our economy and for supporting small businesses and cottage industries such as fashion, arts and crafts and services, which feed off the carnival.
Our investment in critical infrastructure and support for the private sector has made us the home of 1st choice in the West African sub-region for hospitality facilities such as new hotels, restaurants, cafes, fashion shows and so many other tourism related businesses, creating jobs for thousands of people.
Not only long ago, we lived up to our rating as the fashion capital of Africa when we played host to representatives from over 34 countries in the Arise Fashion show.
Today our culture and our colors are in radiant display. As you can see from the spectacular costumes on parade, our skills acquisition centres have now proven their worth as solid institutions for producing skilled manpower to make costumes, tourist merchandise and the like.
All the costumes you see were made at the centres. This means that over 3000 artisans were engaged, using skills like tailoring, tie and dye, accessory making, millinery, welding and carpentry, that they learnt at the centres.
Over 24,000 other suppliers of various materials were also involved; building capacity for our youths and stimulating commerce.
I hear that market women were complaining that "the carnival people have bought all the accessories!" That is a good complaint, for a Government that is serious about the growth of small businesses and job creation.
About 2,500 students and 18,000 adults participated in this year's carnival procession, which stretched from Ikoyi, through Onikan, Bamgbose, Igbosere, Catholic Mission Street to Tafawa Balewa Square and the National Museum.
I must thank the parents of all the children who participated in the carnival for granting them the permission to participate.
Let me also acknowledge the hard work of the chairmen of the four main activities of the Festival Week – Professor Wole Soyinka who chaired the Black Heritage Festival; Engineer Olusegun Jawando who chaired the Lagos Boat Regatta; Mr. Tunde Fasina who chaired the Lagos Beauty Pageant and Mr. Disun Holloway, the Honorable Commissioner for Tourism and Intergovernmental Relations who chaired the Lagos Carnival and coordinated all the events that have culminated in today's spectacular Grand finale.
I also thank all the medical, traffic and security officers, whose hard work has ensured a safe and hitch-free carnival.
I thank you all. We could not have done it without you.
To our main sponsors – MTN and Maltina, along with all the other supporting organisations – Eko Hotel, Ecobank and Salini, I say: I look forward to being a guest at the Carnival wholly funded by the private sector while Government supports with its institutions for medical, traffic and security management.
I must reiterate that tourism is about destinations. Its capacity to stimulate the economy is also not in dispute.
As our transport infrastructure projects such as Ferry Terminals, Eti-Osa Lekki-Epe Expressway, Badagry Expressway, the Light Rail and Mile 12-Ikorodu expansion are fully completed, they will open up vast opportunities to the many tourist and historic sites that our State is blessed with.
I am sure that with a dedicated ministry supervising our growing tourism industry, implementing sound policies and taking advantage of medium and long term opportunities that will attract more and more visitors every year, Lagos is now ready to welcome the world!
I thank you all for coming and wish you safe journey back to your homes. The Grand After-Carnival party is still holding at the National Museum, for those of you who still have the strength!
Until we meet again next year at the 2013 Lagos Carnival, I leave you with your fond memories of Eko for Show and in the loving care of God
Eko o ni baje o!
Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN
Governor of Lagos State