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Let these monuments speak

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By Japhet Alakam

As a build up to May 27, the D day for the Lagos at 50 celebration, many programmes were lined up by the organisers to make the celebration a huge success. A visit to many areas of the city shows that the city is wearing a new look with the mounting of billboards, construction of roads, commissioning of projects etc, but one area that touched the heart of many is the erection of statues and monuments at different places.

•The Youth Empowerment statue at Yaba, one of the statues erected in the Lagos

The Lagos State governor as part of the Lagos at 50 celebration decided to change the beauty and aesthetic nature of the city through the erection of 19 statues in strategic places across the state. The move which can be seen as a demonstration of Governor Ambode’s commitment towards the promotion and development of cultural tourism in the State is paying off as it has added to the beautification of the city and at the same time address specific problems in the society.

Apart from the statues of the three wisemen that welcomes all to Lagos at the Berger end of Lagos, last February, the statues of the first crowned king of Lagos, King Ado and the legendary Prince Olofin Atekoye, referred to as the first migrants from Ile- Ife the cradle of Yorubas to settle in Lagos were unveiled at Ijora Olopa and Moloney roundabout respectively for the younger generations.

Recently, the  statue of the ‘Ojuloge’ monument erected at Iganmu that celebrates womanhood and educates the public on how to discourage violence against womanhood and another one at Ikorodu were unveiled.  Last weekend, it was the turn of the people of Yaba as a new statue tagged Youth Empowerment Statue erected, opposite Sabo General market, Yaba was unveiled by the governor.

The magnificent Youth Empowerment statue which was built by Iponri Studios, made up of 10 professional artists in partnership with Terra Kulture, Lagos was another bold step to change the aesthetic landscape and  at the same time emphasize to the youth the importance of education.

A critical look at the giant statue that depicts the different stages one must go through in school before graduating, from the cradle, primary, secondary, tertiary institution and crowning it with a graduation gown with the different books they read at each stage parked by the sides demonstrates what Nigerians can do if provided with the conducive working environment. The  construction which was done by 10 artists, shows their ability to work in unity from the beginning to the end was what made the job possible as it would have taken years if it was carried out by one or two people. It was a well constructed edifice geared towards empowering the youths through education so that they will leave the social vices and become useful to the society.

The monument which was sited at Yaba, the home of education in Lagos has a lot of messages for the youths. A well built and designed piece that shows a primary school pupil reading his book at the rear with different books laid by the side. Next stage, the secondary school student busy with his books too, followed by one in the tertiary school busy reading with books laid by the side and finally, the student with a graduation gown throws his cap up with joy, signifying that is all over,.

According to the governor, who was represented by the commissioner for youth and social development, Pharm. Uzomat Akindele-Yusuf, it is in honour of our children that makes up the young people in commemoration of the vision of the governor to empower the youths to make them secure.

“The unveiling of the Statues validates His Excellency, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, the Governor of Lagos State ’s vision of beautifying the Lagos landscape with befitting monuments as the State marks the 50th anniversary of her creation, tagged Lagos @ 50″.

According to the Commissioner, the monument sites will continue to serve as a destination for tourists in need of historical information to enrich their knowledge of the Arts and Culture of Lagosians.

She however, enjoined residents around monuments sites in Lagos State to take responsibility and ownership of the highly important sites. According to her “their cultural and historical value should not be eroded by vandals and miscreants”.

Mr. Bede Umeh, head of the Iponri Studio that sculptured the statues commended the governor for the initiative and other youth empowerment. He explained that the fiber glass that forms the major component of the statues will last a century if well maintained.

The unveiling was attended by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Jamiu Adewale Ashimi alongside Directors and management staff of the Ministry, Bayo Adefule, sole administrator Yaba, CDC chairman, representative of the DPO and others.


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