Nigeria opens ‘Door of Return’ to African returnees

Eniola Ajayi, Lagos

L-R:* President, African Renaissance Foundation (AREFO), Mr. Babatunde Masewaku; Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs & Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa; Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Overseas Affairs & Investment, Prof. Ademola Abass and Managing Director/CEO, Agile Communications Limited, Mr. Rufai Ladipo during a press conference on the First Annual Diaspora Festival in Badagry at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa, Ikeja, on Tuesday, June 13, 2017.

The dreaded ‘point of no return’ which was the final spot of departure for victims of the infamous transatlantic slave trade will become the ‘door of return’ during the Diaspora Festival in Badagry this year.

The ‘door of return’ will be the high-point of the 2017 Diaspora Festival scheduled to hold from the 23rd to 25th of August.

Against this backdrop, the Lagos State Government has partnered with the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora- Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, to welcome Africans in the diaspora back home.

At a Press Conference to unveil the festival logo, Mrs Dabiri-Erewa said the partnership with the Lagos State Government was the first of its kind in the history of the festival which began about 17 years ago.

According to her, the festival will showcase Africa to the world in good light and on a positive note.

“The time is right for a festival of this magnitude because Africans in diaspora are clamouring to come back home now, more than before,” she said.

Programme in tandem
The Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Overseas Affairs and Investment, Professor Ademola Abbas said the event was in tandem with the vision of Lagos State to harness the tourism potential of the state especially in Badagry.

L-R:* Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign
Affairs & Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa; Special Adviser to the Lagos
State Governor on Overseas Affairs & Investment, Prof. Ademola Abass and
Managing Director/CEO, Agile Communications Limited, Mr. Rufai Ladipo
during a press conference on the First Annual Diaspora Festival in Badagry
at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa, Ikeja, on Tuesday, June 13,
2017.

Professor Abbas said that Badagry had a plethora of historical sites that would always be of interest to local and foreign tourists.

“The ‘door of no return’ is leading to a ‘door of return,’ when Honourable Dabiri led a delegation to the state government to ask for support regarding the project, he (the governor) bought into it because it is in line with Lagos’ agenda of ensuring investment, as in the case of the deep sea port in Badagry and showcasing the state via the T.H.E.S.E. (Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment, Sports for Excellence) project,” he explained.

One of the Marketing partners of the event, Mr Rufai Ladipo, said the festival would be similar to FESTAC 77 (Festival of Aarts and Culture 1977), but expected to be bigger in terms of the tourism potential on display.

Other highlights
Mr Ladipo explained further that after the opening ceremony, there would be a carnival procession as well as boat regatta, fishing competition, beauty pageant, international music festival, diaspora dinner, among others.

“My main job is to ensure good financial returns regarding the project, so, I will be reaching out to prospective investors and corporate bodies to support the festival because it will mark a turning point for tourism in Lagos,” he added.

Confidence Okwuchi