Glitz, glam­our at La­gos boat cruise, re­gatta

Sunday Trust - - ARTS & IDEAS - From Nu­rudeen Oye­wole, La­gos

For hun­dreds of La­gos State res­i­dents that turned up at the 2018 edi­tion of the boat re­gatta com­pe­ti­tion held at the water­front, Ikoyi, there per­haps could not have been a bet­ter op­por­tu­nity for the gov­ern­ment to make La­gos a tourism hub.

In­deed, for a state that has a sub­stan­tial geo­graph­i­cal en­tity on wa­ter, a few might share the view that the state aquatic re­sources de­serve be­ing in­cor­po­rated in the gov­ern­ment’s in­ten­tion of ex­plor­ing its tourism po­ten­tials.

Al­though, La­gos, like the other 35 states in the coun­try, op­er­ates a three-sen­a­to­rial district po­lit­i­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion, yet, the old group­ings and di­vi­sions still hold sway in the dis­tri­bu­tion and ap­por­tion­ing of re­sources. Of the five old di­vi­sions of La­gos, com­pris­ing La­gos (Is­land), Iko­rodu, Epe, Bada­gry and Ikeja, the Ikeja divi­sion is the only one with­out a river­ine part.

Hence, when 20 con­tend­ing boats gath­ered on April 1 at the Ikoyi water­front, so as to par­tic­i­pate in the 2018 edi­tion of the boat re­gatta, it was only the Ikeja divi­sion that was not rep­re­sented. Five con­tend­ing boats rep­re­sented each of La­gos Is­land, Bada­gry, Epe and Iko­rodu.

Decked in colour­ful tra­di­tional at­tires, par­tic­i­pants in each boat cheered and danced to dif­fer­ent beats of lo­cal drum­mers on board as they con­ducted pa­rades. The aim was to at­tract good points from the panel of judges. The parad­ing boats were also beau­ties to be­hold as they were de­signed to re­flect the cul­tural affin­ity of the peo­ple pad­dling them.

The State Gover­nor, Mr Ak­in­wunmi Am­bode used the oc­ca­sion to re­in­state his gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to cleaner and safer coast­lines for the peo­ple and vis­i­tors.

Am­bode, who was rep­re­sented by his Deputy, Dr Idiat Ade­bule, re­called that the last time a boat re­gatta was or­gan­ised in the state in 2017, where there was a si­mul­ta­ne­ous host­ing across four dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions as part of ac­tiv­i­ties mark­ing the La­gos at 50 cer­e­monies.

“The suc­cess of the event, again brought the trea­sure of the wa­ter­ways in the state to the fore, and the need to in­vest more in the sec­tor. We have ex­panded the scope of this won­der­ful fan­fare last year when we held the boat re­gatta pa­rade si­mul­ta­ne­ously at four dif­fer­ent venues to cel­e­brate the golden ju­bilee an­niver­sary of the cre­ation of our state. The suc­cess of that ex­pe­ri­ence re­as­sured us of the trea­sure that our wa­ter­ways rep­re­sent and why we must nur­ture this God-given as­set as a ma­jor tourist at­trac­tion.

“We have made a mod­est in­vest­ment in a few lux­ury boats that are meant to tar­get tourism pro­mo­tion. The La­gos la­goon boasts of per­haps the busiest wa­ter route in West Africa. There is a vi­brant boat club with mem­bers’ boat col­lec­tion that is as­ton­ish­ing; there is a grow­ing in­ter­est in surf­ing and our wa­ter­ways are ac­knowl­edged as one of the best for scuba div­ing in the world.

“This is why our de­ter­mi­na­tion will not wa­ver in mak­ing our wa­ter­ways cleaner and safer with fur­ther in­vest­ments and part­ner­ships in the chan­neli­sa­tion of the wa­ter routes, in the pro­vi­sion of more stan­dard jet­ties and fer­ries,” Am­bode said. Sim­i­larly, the State Com­mis­sioner for Tourism, Arts and Cul­ture, Steve Ay­orinde said mak­ing the boat re­gatta an an­nual fes­ti­val is de­lib­er­ate be­cause aside the fact that it was de­signed to pro­mote the state’s tourism po­ten­tials, it also seeks to sus­tain the state tra­di­tions and cul­tures of the river­ine res­i­dents in the state.

“The boat re­gatta is opened to the pub­lic as a cul­tural and en­ter­tain­ment fun­fair meant to show­case part of the State’s rich aquatic cul­tural as­set, be­ing a fes­ti­val that is com­mon to the tra­di­tional coast­line com­mu­ni­ties. This is one ini­tia­tive we hope to sus­tain in the years to come be­cause we are not re­lent­ing in our drive to make La­gos, the most sought-af­ter city in terms of arts and tourism in the years to come. “The boat re­gatta is a tra­di­tional tourism fea­ture of La­gos State and this year’s out­ing, in line with the vi­sion of Gover­nor Am­bode, will fur­ther show­case the tourism val­ues and beauty of La­gos wa­ter­ways and mar­ket its po­ten­tials to lo­cal and for­eign tourists as well as in­vestors,” Ay­orinde said.

The event which also fea­tured search and res­cue de­mon­stra­tion, wa­ter safety tips, en­ter­tain­ment boat pa­rade and cul­tural per­for­mances, later had Ag­bowa-Ikosi group from Epe divi­sion as the over­all win­ner, while the Fanti group of the La­gos Is­land divi­sion as well as Bada­gry Olorunda group emerg­ing first and sec­ond run­ner ups re­spec­tively.

Mercy Adeyemi, a mid­dle-aged woman who brought her chil­dren to the event ex­pressed de­light with the boat re­gatta ini­tia­tive. She said whereas the aware­ness about the an­nual event is still rel­a­tively low, it is one ges­ture sure to push the state on the front burner and there should be more ap­pre­ci­a­tion through at­ten­dance.

“When I told col­leagues at of­fice that I would be spend­ing my Easter Sun­day at the boat re­gatta in Ikoyi, many were ap­par­ently taken aback,” Adeyemi said. “But for me, peo­ple must start learn­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate what be­longs to us. What can pro­mote us and can even boost our econ­omy. My chil­dren and I have been savour­ing ev­ery bits of the fun here to­day and I be­lieve it can be bet­ter. The most im­por­tant is that this is tak­ing place in our own coun­try and it de­serves be­ing pro­moted be­yond this level,” Adeyemi said.

Other dig­ni­taries at the event were, mem­bers of the La­gos State Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil; for­mer Deputy Gover­nors - Femi Pe­dro and Al­haja Si­natu Ojikutu; Oba of La­gos, HRH, Oba Ril­wan Aki­olu; for­mer Sec­re­tary to the State Gov­ern­ment, Princess Adeni­ran Ogun­sanya; Se­na­tors Mu­niru Muse, Musiliu Obanikoro, among oth­ers.

Mean­while, jour­nal­ists from var­i­ous me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tions, Nol­ly­wood ac­tors and ac­tresses as well as other prom­i­nent per­son­al­i­ties in the tourism, art and en­ter­tain­ment sec­tor were sub­se­quently hosted by the State Gov­ern­ment on a boat cruise along Lekki/Ikoyi Wa­ter­way.

The boat cruise which took off and ended at the Prest Cruise Water­front, , Lekki Phase 1, lasted for two-hours.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of La­gos State Gover­nor and Deputy Gover­nor, Dr (Mrs) Olu­ranti Ade­bule (mid­ddle); Chair­man, La­gos State Sport Fund, Otunba Femi Pe­dro (left) and Head of Ser­vice, Mrs. Fo­lasade Ades­oye (right) dur­ing the 2018 La­gos Boat Re­gatta at the...

Par­tic­i­pants dis­play­ing dur­ing the 2018 agos Boat Re­gatta at the La­goon Water­front, koyi, La­gos, on Sun­day, April 1, 2018.

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