The annual Amuwo Odofin festival, a gathering of top Nigerian music stars, entered its 5th year with the likes of 2Face, Kcee, Harrysong, DJ Zeez, Chuddy K, sharing a stage with local up and coming acts.
Held on Monday, December 31, 2013, the fiesta had thousands of residents trooping to the FHA ground, Festac, to enjoy the rare opportunity of seeing their local entertainers along with the biggest stars in the land entertain them at no cost.
ENCOMIUM Weekly in a chat with the brain behind the fiesta, Chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government, Comrade Ayodele Adewale asked why he keeps investing so much in the event, his plans to improve on it and make it world class, among other issues
Why do you keep hosting the annual Amuwo Odofin Carnival, spending a lot of the people’s money in the process?
Amuwo Odofin is a tourist haven, tourism thrives here and we are trying to lay on what was initiated in 1977 during the Festival of Black Arts and Culture. I would believe that’s our selling point, and if you can build on that, definitely we’ll create jobs and opportunities for the youth. Opportunities abound and we don’t want to miss them. So, yearly we’ve been doing this.
How exactly did the idea come about?
The concept was borrowed from a man named DJ Megajam. He was the one that created the first rap/rnb platform, and that platform discovered a lot of artistes like 2Face, Azadus, Konga, Sound Sultan, Faze, Blackface and so many of them. If you look around our local government, every street now has a street jam. But with a bid to improve the carnival beyond a street jam, we have introduced poetry, cultural dancers, choreographers and we have given an opportunity to everybody that has talent.
Why are the youths the only target, what about children and the elderly?
If you look at the age demography in Nigeria today, you will see that the population of Nigerian is predominantly youths. We have the youths taking over 52 percent of our population and majority of them are unemployed. You have to agree with me that the biggest employer of labour in Nigeria right now is the entertainment industry. There is a need to have platforms such as this where we can discover more music talents and put them on the same stage with the A list artistes. It also gives these A list artistes the opportunity to give back by performing here for free because that is what the likes of 2Face did. We didn’t pay him any money to perform at the carnival.
What’s your drive?
Our drive, like I told you, is just to empower youth, to get them very close to the opportunity and to get investors to sponsor us. For instance, MTN partly sponsored the last one and this year, they have assured us that they will fully sponsor it. Nestle, Guinness and some other companies are already showing interest in becoming our partners from this year.
As the chief security officer of the local government, being an area boy of my area, I know what it entails. That is why I did not sit dining and wining. I was moving around, making sure that everything went as planned. We got a lot of security support from the police, the SSS and the Nigeria Army. Of course, you cannot be fully secured without the people. So, we had the youth, the locals wearing red bibs, helping to secure their environment.
You mentioned discovery of new talents as part of the idea behind this project, what next or it ends there?
It doesn’t end here. We started on a funny note, using a plank stage that was small. I must thank DJZeez because he has been with us since the beginning, every episode he has attended. We also started with Faze to think of how we can use this project to discover and support new talents. What we are looking at is that by next year, it would move on its own without government involvement. Look at the Nottinghill Carnival, it’s self sponsored, the Brazilian Carnival is self sponsored while the Calabar Carnival as well as the Abuja Carnival are not self sponsored. By this year, the Amuwo Odofin Music Fiesta will be self sponsored and we are partnering with a group, the Festac Fiesta.
What advice do you have for youths out there who are trying to come up?
My advice is, if you have got talent, go after it, improve your talent and see where it will take you to.
What made the last one better that the past ones?
It gets better every year, no doubt. This year we had a bigger crowd, more artistes, more involvement of people from the locals. So it’s getting better.
What is your candid assessment of the entire event?
I thank God, it was much better. We have peace, maximum security, no fracas and we intend to keep it like that.
– DANIEL FAYEMI