For Benita Okojie, last Sunday will remain a memorable one. The reason is that, being a former kid artiste, May 27 will normally have a special meaning to her. It is the Children’s Day, on which she usually performed regularly in the past.
But the second main reason is that she was practically reinvented at the Lagos State Government House where she performed at a programme organised to mark the Children’s Day and mark the third anniversary of the Akinwunmi Ambode administration as well as the Democracy Day.
To her, it should mean a lot because it was like a comeback at a strategic place. Apart from reuniting with her old friends and fans, the artiste that is now married with a child discovered a good fan in the wife of the governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode. She was one of the people who could not resist singing and dancing with her as she doled out some of her old songs and other popular gospel notes.
But while some other groups that include contemporary dancers Q Dance, Ikorodu-based starlets, Dream Catchers, Dance na the Main Thing and rising comedian, Gift Loveday, also savoured the beauty of the night, the biggest honour went to Footprints of David, a group of children and youths who emerged from troubled and indigent spots in the Bariga area of Lagos. The troupe formed by Seun Awobajo enjoyed special attention by the chief host, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who was moved by their story of nothing to potential greatness.
Part of the honour they enjoyed was that a documentary on their emergence was screened. The biggest treat, however, is that Ambode celebrated their parents, who he called to the podium and had photographs taken with them. He promised to continue to support the group.
Led by Qudus Onikeku, Q Dance presented a beautifully choreographed dance, fired by ijala chants and other devices, all driving a message of radical change.
It was not the first time that Loveday would be blessed by Lagos. He had won a million naira at the talent discovery segment of the end of the show held last December. He proved his mettle again at the event, with some jokes that kept everyone laughing. Among others, he noted that since he won the prize, everyone had become his friend as they wanted a slice of the cash. He gave the example of his deceased father who also visited him in his dream – asking for the same thing.
The event tagged ‘A Special Evening of the Arts’ indeed threw up some of the huge potential that Lagos has as far as the sector is concerned, with the governor eulogising the ingenuity of the children performers. He said, “Every work of arts has an innate expression that tells the story of .the past, the present and the future. As we celebrate the 51st year anniversary of the state, we are also giving gratitude to God for the 3rd anniversary of this administration and, more importantly, we are celebrating our most cherished asset, the children.”
On Foot of David acts and their parents, he said, “I am inspired by the deep and descriptive message conveyed in their performance, particularly when they said, Lagos! We are the future and the future is now, which means, according to their rendition, there is hope for Nigeria and only unity will lead us to the future. Lagos honours and celebrates you and the children as no nation can achieve its full potential without investing in human capital which the children and youth represent.”
The Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Steve Ayorinde, commended the governor for providing what he called strategy and direction for enriching arts experiences in the state.
“The entire world of arts and entertainment are grateful for the exceptional confidence, vision and commitment you have bestowed on the creative industry,” he said.
Also at the event were the Minister of Information and Strategy, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; a former Military Governor of Lagos State, Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson; and popular businessman, Chief Kesington Adebutu.