By: Segun Lawal
President of France, Mr. Emmanuel Macron’s historic visit to the home of the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, New Afrika shrine in Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos on Tuesday night was as colorful as it was enlightening.
The French President, in an event at the shrine to inaugurate the African Cultural Season 2020 with the theme, ‘Celebration of African Culture’ expressed his delight to be back to the Afrika Shrine, having last been there in 2002, saying, he still held fond memories of the place.
Speaking at the event, Macron pointed that The Afrika Shrine was an iconic centre for the propagation of African culture, strength and music.
“I discovered Nigeria and a lot of my friends are here. I discovered Nigeria and I discovered Lagos and I discovered the shrine. This place is an iconic place and it is a place where the best of music is given. I have to say my main memories about this place are friends, proud people, proud of their culture, proud of their art and music. I have a very different view of Africa than a lot of other people in Europe,” he said.
Stressing the need for Africa and Europe, especially France to build a new commonality, Macron added that “this new commonality was not based on what was important for Europeans but for Africa, their culture, how they built and promoted.
“Being here, I do recognize their culture and respect their views. This place is important for Africa and their culture and that is why I am here.”
He also disclosed plans to host the African Cultural Season 2020 in France, which he said, would be about promoting African culture in Europe, adding that the event was going to be for Africa and by African artistes.
“It will include people with fashion, African movies, new generation of artistes will be coming from Africa and it will be organized by them to show Europe and France” the real culture of Africa.
“The event will be financed by African leaders. It will not be sponsored by France or European businesses, but by African businesses, it is brand new. This season is a unique one and it will be the new face of Africa in Europe organize by Africans, providing what you like and what you have here,” he said.
At the official unveiling of Alliance Francaise, a French Cultural Centre in Lagos on Wednesday, Macron said the development was part of the measures to scale up the relationship between France and Nigeria, while also specifically offering the commitment of the government and people of France to development of infrastructural projects in Lagos.
“Thanks very much for being here; thanks very much for making this possible and to Mr Governor, we spoke yesterday and this morning together in the car. Going to shrine together yesterday and going to French Alliance now. It’s much more quite, much more calm and reasonable but at the end of the day, I think both of us (Governor Ambode and I) did share the same views that we can do tremendous things together.
“Your State – Lagos, is one of the main challenges of not just Nigeria but the whole of Africa. I mean this huge city, there is tremendous challenge about how to make people living together in peace, in a better place and I want France to be part of this story and I do want my country and my people being part of this experience. It means belonging same values, sharing cultures, languages, literatures, music, movies, building together projects, having common economic projects and so on, and this eco system will be not just possible but stronger staying in this place,” Macron said.
Earlier, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode while welcoming President Macron to the State, expressed optimism that the historic visit will go a long way to break any barriers between Nigeria and France as well as foster greater collaboration for economic, social and cultural growth.
The Governor said the State Government was delighted to host Macron, a well respected global leader, adding that it would also signal a new era between both countries, especially for Lagos where talents in the arts and creative industry abound.
“On behalf of the government and good people of Lagos State, I welcome His Excellency, President Emmanuel Macron, President of France, to the commercial and cultural capital of Nigeria and indeed West Africa.
“We are delighted and honoured to be hosting a President of one of the world’s Super Powers; a permanent member of the United Nation’s Security Council with veto rights, a prominent member of the G8 and the World Trade Organisation and a champion of Global Climate Change.
The Governor said he was particularly delighted that Macron’s visit to Lagos began on a cultural and entertainment note, adding that the French Cultural Centre and Alliance Française based in the State had always been an asset to its cultural landscape in the same way that Trace Television had also become an invaluable addition to its music and entertainment sphere.
Governor Ambode said he was very optimistic Macron’s visit and activities would boost the State’s quest to become the culture and entertainment capital of Africa, just as he said that the State Government would seek to establish collaborations with France and play an integral part of the Year 2020 African Cultural Season in Paris as envisioned by President Macron.
“With the exceptional characteristics of our State as the most populous, vibrant and indeed the fifth richest economy on the African continent, Lagos is the undeniable destination for business and pleasure in Africa. The new Lagos experience is being enhanced daily as we continue to create an enduring infrastructural and security architecture for the business of tourism and cultural arts to thrive. This also creates a platform for our local talents to feel a sense of belonging and encouragement.
“Mr. President, this momentous State Visit shall signal the dawn of a new era between France and Nigeria especially for the myriad of talents that have made Lagos their home,” the Governor said.
He said Macron’s emergence as the President of France has inspired many youths in Nigeria, who constitute 60 percent of the country’s population, adding that Lagos was providing avenues for youths to explore their creativity and talents.
There were also Art Exhibition, Fashion Show, display of Nollywood scenes, presentation of a painting of Fela to Macron by Governor Ambode as well as pencil frame artwork of Macron done by 11-old old Kareem Olamilekan drawn within two hours.
On hand with refreshing renditions were , music artistes, Yemi Alade, Charlotte Dipanda from Kenya, sterling performances by dance group, Footprints of David and a spectacular performance by Femi Kuti culminating the event.
Election shift: I’m deeply disappointed with INEC —Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed deep disappointment over the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly polls by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The President lamented that, despite giving all the necessary support to the electoral umpire, the exercise was postponed just hours to voting and after Nigerians had taken the pains to travel to vote.
“I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission postponed the presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commencement,” Buhari said in a statement he signed on Saturday morning in Daura, Katsina State.
However, he asked INEC to ensure the safety of election materials already distributed and appealed to Nigerians to remain law abiding.
Buhari also stated that he had decided to relocate to Abuja from Daura to ensure that the meeting INEC called to hold with stakeholders was successfully.
His statement reads further, “We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement, and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates.
“While I reaffirm my strong commitment to the independence, neutrality of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process and ballot, I urge all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment in our democratic journey.
“I, therefore, appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development.”
Source: Punch Newspaper
President Buhari’s statement on postponement of elections by INEC
STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT BUHARI ON THE POSTPONEMENT OF GENERAL ELECTIONS BY INEC
I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the Presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commencement.
Many Nigerians have traveled to various locations to exercise their right to vote, and international observers are gathered.
INEC themselves have given assurances, day after day and almost hour after hour that they are in complete readiness for the elections. We and all our citizens believed them.
This administration has ensured that we do not interfere in any way with the work of INEC except to ensure that all funds were released to the commission.
We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement, and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates.
While I reaffirm my strong commitment to the independence, neutrality of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process and ballot, I urge all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment in our democratic journey.
I, therefore, appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development.
I have decided to move back to Abuja to ensure that the 14.00 hrs meeting called by INEC with all stakeholders is successful.
Daura, February 16, 2019
Election postponement: I’m disappointed….Balarabe Musa
Former Kaduna State Governor, Balarabe Musa, on Saturday expressed disappointment over the postponement of the general elections, but declared that INEC was never prepared for the exercise in the first place.
INEC had announced the postponement a few hours to the kickoff of the February 16 presidential and National Assembly polls.
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, while announcing the postponement in Abuja, attributed the step to “overwhelming logistics and operational challenges.”
The Commission fixed February 23 and March 9 as new dates for the presidential and National Assembly elections; and the governorship and state Assembly polls respectively.
But Musa, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Kaduna on Saturday, said he was disappointed, but not surprised, at the development.
“I am not surprised because INEC was never ready for the exercise, given the level of its preparations.
“INEC had serious funding challenges; what was appropriated to the Commission by the National Assembly was not adequate and everyone knew it.
“We are not even sure if the approved amount was released to the electoral body by the Federal Government.
“The logistics and operational challenges are glaring. There are also serious security challenges that may affect the agency in the course of the elections.
“The security services are facing the same funding crises and most of them are living in fear.
“You can also see the serious challenges being faced by the Judiciary, who are supposed to play a major role in the election process,” Musa said.
“So, I must say that I am disappointed; but, again, as I said, I am not surprised. I hope that all the stakeholders will take the necessary measures to help INEC address the issues before February 23, the new date for the presidential polls, because the President can only hand over power to an elected person.”
Musa called on Nigerians to remain calm as they prepare towards the new dates for the polls.
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