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Lagos @ 50: Soyinka replies critics on expenses

It initially appeared like stepping into usual media day event when the committee members of the Lagos @50 recently hosted a forum on the festival. But the media men and those who came to hear from the committee went home dazed with fury and fire debunk.
Insinuations that monetary expenditure earmarked for the celebration of Lagos at 50 has been wasted by the committee entrusted to carry out the task is a ruse. This claim made in form of advertorial has been generating controversy of late in the state.
In a swift reaction at a news conference by the committee members of the festival, Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, speaking on their behalf categorically debunked the claim by the critics that funds provided by the Lagos State government and other corporate bodies to see to the successful hosting of the event have developed wings.
According to Soyinka, it is a misleading statement coming from that quarter on the expenses which has not been provided. Insisting that the scope of the festival is very wide but plans are quite ongoing to see that all the necessary logistics are adequately provided which involve all and sundry living in Lagos.
“It is a dangerous trend and a distortion to create a negative mood about the celebration of Lagos@50. We are here to correct that misconception. Sponsors of the paid advertorial want to cause disaffection between the state government and the workforce with regard to their welfare as the economic recession in the country bit harder, which everyone has been complaining linking it with what we intend to do at the Lagos festival,” So, it is tendentious when people do that kind of thing,” he stressed.
As far as he is concerned with the workings of the committee none of the committee members has smelt one naira of the funds earmarked by the state government even as the committee has taken it upon itself to raise funds for its assigned master plan of the festival. “We are getting ready with those expectations on our part. It is going to be a two-week long programme. Hopefully, it might kick off on June 27, so the people will understand, and those who are insinuating on the funds being misappropriated should desist from such. Therefore, we should be practical; we should learn to wait because we have a master plan. Based on paper everything is there. But the funds are being awaited.”
When asked whether the committee is carrying everybody along especially the media to see that plans marking Lagos @50 come to a reality, he had this to say: “To give the idea of the vision all about celebration of Lagos@50 is on the website:” Apart from that, those bandying words on misappropriation of funds, he said should allow the committee “does its work and not bouncing at them.”
On his part, co-chairman of the committee, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi corroborated Soyinka’s views on accommodating those willing to be part of the festival without misgivings. “The space is there for people to participate but having the ability and the willingness is key.” Celebration he emphasized is worthwhile when something calls for it. “It is part of mental exercise for existence.”
Soyinka giving much elucidation on what actually Lagos@50 calls for buttressed further. “As the committee constituted for this festival is working round the clock, what it entails is that we celebrate on nothing. We acknowledge women and gender issues bringing about mental exercise. Culture on its part is a political weapon. It is the aggressiveness of political culture against lunatic movement, hate, contempt and arrogance. As it were, this country is brutalized and traumatized. It is a worldwide issue, war against nihilism. So, in all, expansion of imagination is the solution.”
Organisers of Lagos@50 are involving everyone who has one thing or the other to showcase in terms of arts and culture, a colloquium will take place heralding the festival, and the hidden culture of Lagos will also be unveiled. Animators, musicians, exhibitors, writers among others will be accommodated.
For those who are longing to be part of Lagoa@50 as regards sponsorship also has a space going by the words of the Nobel Laureate, “If you have any idea of a company who has a loosed money, you can let us know.”
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