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Toke Benson-Awoyinka: We Will Create Water Tours Of Lagos, Bring Back Festivals

She also spoke on the recently commissioned film city, saying it will create investments in the state.

Lagos State’s Commissioner for Tourism, Arts, Culture, Toke Benson-Awoyinka, has said that in her administration, the government will ensure that they create water tourism channels for Lagos state, as well as bring back festivals that will be celebrated yearly.

The state commissioner also outlined the plans that the Lagos state government has put in place for the $100 million film city that was unveiled in Ejirin, Epe where the Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, performed the groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, saying that it will create more avenues for job opportunities and attract investments in the state.

In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Friday, Benson-Awoyinka, when discussing the changes that her administration will make in ensuring that the waterways, which Lagos is abundant in, contribute to the state’s economy, said, “One of the plans this administration has is to create tours of Lagos. Like I said, some people went to Ejirin by boat on that day, we go to Badagry by boat, I will go to Badagry by boat tomorrow for this ceremony.

“So, one of the plans we have is to be able to do tours around Lagos when people come in. The Czech Ambassador and the Head of Missions came into my office last week and they said, we want to see Lagos. The next best thing I had to do was to put them on that boat and take them to Badagry to see what we have. There’s so much we can still do to develop water tourism. So, the first thing we are going to start is to make sure that people like you and I can actually say we want to spend the weekend in Badagry, in Ejirin, in Ikorodu, in Epe, and you can go by boat, and it’s just like 45 minutes on the lagoon, it’s refreshing, and we’re just going to create the ecosystem around it.”

She also revealed that they are working on reviving festivals that used to be celebrated in older times, saying, “We’re going to have the boat regatta in April, we hope that we’re going to do the Fanti as well. If you know about the Fanti, many years ago in Lagos, the Brazilian porters, every Easter, would have that cultural parade, so all that is coming back.”

The commissioner then spoke on the proposed film city, and how plans for construction are already underway as the government is actively seeking more investments, as the project is private sector funded as they want it to be free from “government bureaucracy.”

Speaking on the contribution of the government, she said, “We have put in a hundred hectares of land… we’re going to put in infrastructure, infrastructure, I’m sure, will go for at least 10 to 20 billion that we will put in there, so we’re looking. This is the time for our budget, and we’re trying to work on those numbers right now.”

The commissioner said that the Lagos state government is working well with the Ejirin community, and that the community has received the project warmly. According to her, Sanwo-Olu had promised to renovate a school that he visited during the tour of the community. She also revealed that this project brought jobs to those in the community as the labour will be provided mainly by those in the community.

Emphasizing on the community’s contribution, she explained that governor Sanwo-Olu had been supportive of the creative industry in several instances, when the government decided that “it will be better for us to have a film city where we have a convergence of practitioners and people who believe in this project than for us to have silos in all places. When there is a convergence on a hundred hectares, land is the next best thing that can happen to you in Lagos.

“There is no land in Lagos, land is the wealth of Lagos, so, for that community to put down that 100 hectares, I think we need to give them, you know, kudos for doing that. So, moving forward, we’re going to make sure we continue that engagement, we’re going to make sure we get into national investors, we have some American investors on ground already. We’re going to make sure that we open it up to more investors.”

Speaking on the deadlines for the completion of this film city, the commissioner said, “One of the first people we’re talking to, they have promised that they’re going to be done or completed with their project by the 3rd quarter of 2026, which is why the governor gave the two-and-a-half-year timeline. So, the timelines are there, people are going to- we expect private equities to come in there, government is going to go in there pulling the infrastructure, whereby we’re going to create access roads to the place so you can actually access the place easily. Right now, there are roads there, but for us to dualize the roads and make sure that the Epe community joins forces with whoever is coming to develop.”

Benson-Awoyinka then said that they had a master plan that they were working on which included hotels, academies, studios and a lot of other things that will bring life to the film city.

She then said that the master plan for the project is still in the works, but when it is completed, it will be shown to the interested public, as she said that it is important for people to see the main framework of whatever they are going to invest in.

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi