LAGOS, STAKEHOLDERS PARLEY ON HERITAGE SITES, MONUMENTS

Wale Jagun

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Acting Commissioner, Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture, Hon. (Chief) MRS Adebimpe Akinsola (2nd right), a travel agent & 2010 winner tourism category of the CNN Multichoice African Journalist, Mr Pelu Awofeso (right) and other participants at the parley.

The Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture parleyed with the major stakeholders in the state on how monuments and heritages in the state can be preserved and developed into tourism attraction.

In attendance at the one day event organized on Thursday, October 27, 2016, to examine the challenges and feel the pulse of stakeholders viz a viz the responsibilities of the State Government through the Ministry, in preserving, protecting and restoring heritage sites and monuments in Lagos in line with the Listed Sites Preservation Law, 2011, were owners/managers of historical and cultural heritage sites, monuments, beaches and other attractions in Lagos State deliberated fruitfully at Alausa.

Speaking at the forum held at the gallery of the Council for Arts & Culture, Alausa, the State Acting Commissioner for the Ministry, Hon. (Mrs.) Adebimpe Akinsola, said the meeting was called to intimate the stakeholders about the binding Law on operational status of tourist sites and examine the challenges facing the sector.

According to her, Section 11 of the 2011Law provides for the preservation, protection and restoration of historical properties and cultural heritage sites/monuments in Lagos State and connected purposes.

“Where a person proposes to demolish or by means of alteration to the structure, decorate, finish or otherwise alter significantly the character of listed sites, such person(s) shall apply for consent in writing to the Governor of Lagos State through the Commissioner of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture for approval” said Hon. Akinsola.

The Acting Commissioner said investigations have revealed that many owners of the numerous heritage sites and monuments, which abound in the State, are unaware of the existence of the said Law and its provisions, especially as it affects their properties and sites.

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Hon. Akinsola (2nd left) with participants

While describing the demolition of “Ilojo bar/Olaiya House” on Sunday, 11th September, 2016, as illegal, she said in order to prevent future occurrence, the stakeholders/public need to be sensitized and enlightened on the importance and need for documentation of all cultural heritage sites for future generations.

The Honourable Commissioner also noted that since the Ministry is saddled with the responsibility of maintaining, preserving protecting and restoring all identified heritage sites and monuments to their original state, it must promote coordinated efforts and synergy among stakeholders for effective management of these sites in line with the policy of the present administration.

In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Adewale Ashimi reiterated the determination of the Ministry to ensure that the tourist sites and monuments are restored to their original state so that they can remain as attractions to tourists for generations to come, adding that, in this regard, the government needs the collaboration of tourist site managers and stakeholders.

Ashimi therefore urged owners, managers and stakeholders of historical and cultural heritage sites, monuments, beaches and other attractions in Lagos to come forward for registration and assessment.

Other participants at the parked hall were traditional chiefs, clerics, tour operators/guides, travel agents, curators, media and many others.

There were meaningful contributions from the participants.

“Lagos State can be the tourism haven of Nigeria,” said High Chief Wawu of Badagry, while revealing that there is a UNESCO World Heritage Site worthy candidate in his compound.

According to a participant, Mr Pelu Awofeso, a travel agent, who spoke with THE IMPACT, “Many Lagosians have championed and funded independent projects in the past to make Lagos Tourism a big deal; sadly, their noble efforts didn’t get the buy-in from the necessary quarters. The parley is a major way forward for tourism development in Lagos.

He added, “it was one of the most engaging discuss I have witnessed on the subject in recent years.”

There were 101 submissions/proposals made at the parley which suggested varying ways of developing tourism in Lagos State among which were: there is a need to research and document all the attractions and identify more; it is imperative that communities take ownership of attractions in their areas and protect them; there is a need to preserve and promote indigenous shrines and religion as well as structures from the colonial years.

It was also held that there is a need for more public-private sector partnerships as well as improved manpower training among many other submissions.

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