Lagos now cornerstone for driving African arts, culture – Ambode

•    Accepts hosting right Of 2016 AFRIMA

GOVERNOR Akinwunmi Ambode has said that winning of the hosting right of the 2016 All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) by Lagos State has further confirmed the fact that the state is now the cornerstone for driving African arts and culture.

This is just as he expressed his administration’s commitment to continue to support the talents in the industry and promote cultural heritage of the continent.

Governor Ambode, who spoke at the Lagos House, Ikeja, when he received AFRIMA delegation led by Head of Culture of African Union Commission, Ms Angela Martins, and AFRIMA President, Mr Mike Dada, expressed excitement at the development while accepting the hosting right.

He said it was in sync with his passion of using tourism, hospitality, entertainment, arts and sports to promote excellence.

“I want to thank the African Union and the organizers of the All Africa Music Awards for finding it worthy to once again pick Lagos as the host city. We are very glad that Lagos has become more or less the cornerstone for driving the African arts and culture.

“I must say that even though this is the third time that Lagos is hosting it, but this is the very first time that the Lagos State government will be practically involved and that goes to show that there is a convergence of vision between what the African Union stands for and what this particular administration stands for also.

“We are big promoters of our culture; we believe so much in heritage; we believe also that the creative part of the African identity is yet to be tapped and obviously, we need to intervene in some of the things that are being done individually to be able to put things together so that we can together drive the African identity and that is why it is a no-brainier for us as a government to actually say that we are going to participate in this,” Governor Ambode said.

The governor said he believed that talents abound in Africa, which, according to him, informed why his administration had been working hard to promote the African artists, adding that talents must be supported and assisted not to die, so that owners could use them to push Africa to her rightful place.

He said: “One of our visions is actually to promote our heritage and one of our programmes in the course of the electioneering was “Project THESE. We believe strongly that we can use Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Arts and Sports to actually promote excellence.

“We believe we are the next face of Africa and we think that the hub of entertainment should actually reside in Lagos and so we will do everything to promote our artists, to promote our producers and even those that are up and coming,” he said.

Besides, Ambode urged those in the creative industry to key into the N25billion Employment Trust Fund (ETF) set up by his administration.

Earlier, the head of the AFRIMA delegation, Ms Martins, commended Governor Ambode for his passion in developing and promoting arts and culture in the continent.

She recalled that out of the states in Nigeria that received letters from the leadership of the African Union (AU) through the Commissioner for Social Affairs, His Excellency Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, Lagos won the rights to once again host the 2016 edition of AFRIMA, describing the development as a great achievement for both the Union and the state.

“We want to thank you (Governor Ambode) for always being on the side of artists and on the side of the African continent in the development of the culture and creative industries of the continent,” Martins said.

In his opening remarks, the State’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Steve Ayorinde, said the hosting right of AFRIMA further attested to the commitment of Governor Ambode to promote culture, arts and tourism.

Ayorinde, who reeled out many achievements of the present administration in the sector such as the expansion of the One Lagos Fiesta, the hosting of the International Jazz Festival at the Lagos House, and the up and coming celebration of Lagos at the Toronto International Festival in September, said the Ambode administration had indeed continued to use the sector to achieve excellence.

Some of the notable names in the creative industry who were part of the delegation include Innocent Idibia, DJ Jimmy Jatt, Seyi Shay, Praise, Simi, Olisa Adibua, Tee Mac, among others.