The Best of Lagos Fam Tour across the 5 divisions of Lagos organised by Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture kicked off on the 30th of March.
The tour tagged “bestoflagosfamtour22” is part of efforts of Lagos State to create tourist infrastructure and enabling environment for leisure to thrive.
The group had in attendance Mr. Solomon Bonu, Special Adviser to Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Tourism, Arts and Culture; Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf; Amb. Ikechi Uko; newly appointed Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture, Mrs. Oyinade Nathan-Marsh; Chairman, House Committee on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Fatai Oluwa; renowned artiste Kenny Saint Brown; Members of the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Tourism Hon. Desmond Elliot; Hon. Ege Sulaimon and other tourism stakeholders mainly Young Tour Operators, Travel Journalists and Federation of Tourism Associations FTAN officials.
The tour took off from Ndubuisi Kanu Park, Ikeja and the first port of call was the Afrika Shrine where they were received by Sunday Essien, the manager.
According to him, many people visit the shrine to pray for specific requests, noting that they attest that those prayers are answered.
Also speaking was Nigerian Music Promoter, Edi Lawani who called on the Lagos State Government to re-engineer cultural activities in the state for economic benefits. The New Afrika Shrine is an open air entertainment centre, which serves as the host location of the annual Felabration music festival.
After that, the group made brief stops at the Bus Terminals in Ikeja and Oshodi. The group made their way to Freedom Park where they were received by the Chief Warden Theo Lawson who gave a-10 minutes presentation on “positioning Lagos as the arts and culture capital of Africa.’ The park which serves as leisure spot is born out of the ruins of Her Majesty’s Broad Street Prisons and reconstructed to preserve the cultural heritage of the Nigerian people. From there the tour for the first day ended with the group taking the ferry from Five Cowries Jetty, Falomo to Badagry.
The tour continued on day two after breakfast at Fams Embassy Suites, Badagry, where the group started the tour of Badagry, with the Slave Museum in Vlekete as the first port of call.
Afterwards, the group proceeded to Badagry Heritage Museum. During the tour of the facility, the group ran into some bikers who also were visiting the place. Among the bikers was Deepak Kamath, a renowned Indian biker and tourist, who plans to visit 75 countries before India’s 75th independence anniversary on August 15th. According to Kamath, he had visited 36 countries so far, 10 of which were African countries- Egypt, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Republic of Congo, Guinea, Kenya and Mozambique. “I am travelling on bike across 75 countries to celebrate India’s 75th independence anniversary, I have visited 36 countries already, 10 of those countries are African countries. India’s 75th independence anniversary is for August 15th, by that time I would have been returning back to India and would have covered 75 countries,” he said.
He went on to describe Nigerians as hospitable, nice and fabulous individuals, adding that his favourite Nigerian foods were amala and ofada rice. The State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, commended Kamath’s efforts and his demonstration of patriotism.
After that, the team visited the Lagos Theater in Badagry, with renowned tour guide Anago Osho making a presentation on “Reinventing Lagos as the Prime Destination for the African Diaspora”. Osho, speaking on the topic, said that the state must focus on attracting individuals of African descent to achieve this. “Due to the activities of the slave masters years back, many Nigerians and Africans believe they are of American origin, which is wrong,” he said. He advised the state government to engage individuals suspected to be of African descent and invest in conducting the deoxyribonucleric acid test (DNA) for them to truly ascertain their origin.
That ended the tour of Badagry, with the team taking the ferry to Five Cowries Jetty, Falomo. From there, the group headed to the biggest art gallery in West Africa, Nike Arts Gallery, with Nike Davies-Okundaye on hand to receive them. The Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Pharm Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf in her address urged youths and stakeholders in the sector to take advantage of the various tourism programmes put in place by the government to promote and market Lagos as a tourism destination.
The final day of the tour started with a visit to the palace of HRH Oba Kamorudeen Ishola Animashaun, the Oloja of Epe land, where the group was received by Tourism 100 Club member and Chairman Epe LGA, Princess Surah Olayemi Animashaun.
During her remarks, she said the aquatic splendour of Epe should be utilized to bring in more tourists.
Some tourism stakeholders further urged Epe to use their festivals to draw in more tourists. From the palace, the group made their way to the famous Epe fish market, which had different types of fishes on display, from shrimps, to the barracuda.
The tour of Epe ended with a trip to the Lagos Theatre, with the CEO of Wakanow Mr. Bayo Adedeji on hand to deliver an address on how to exploit the aquatic blessings of Lagos state for tourism growth.
He talked about making the coastlines profitable as over 4000 people visit Elegushi Beach and another 7000 people visiting Oniru Beach.
He urged that habours should be built, speed boats be made available for other water related activities. The tour of Epe ended with the group leaving for Ikorodu with the first port of call at Oshodi Art Gallery.
They were received by the CEO, Mr. Paul Oshodi. The gallery houses over 17000 artworks. The tour continued to the palace of HRM Oba Engr. Kabir Adewale Shotobi (Ayangburen of Ikorodu). Among the things mentioned during the visit was creating a beach for Ikorodu, as the town is surrounded by water.
There were some calls to soften some of the festivals to allow tourists’ participation. The Oba mentioned that there was 14 hectares of land close to the lagoon, to be used to build resorts and other water related activities. In his remarks, Oba Kabir said this is the first time in history that the Ministry of Tourism will be visiting Lagos divisions and praised the efforts of the Ministry.
By Chigozie Chukwuemeka