Ehingbeti 2021, An In-Covid Jamboree
The Lagos State Government’s Economic talk shop is underway in this season of the second wave of the world’s deadliest public health crisis in hundred years.
My body cringed as I watched the proceedings of the opening ceremony on television. It was obvious that the Lagos State Government is not leading by example in the war against the Covid-19 global pandemic.
How can one explain the fact that a government which has been arresting citizens in night clubs, locking up event centres, putting limitations on private parties and religious gatherings, instituted dawn to dawn curfew, would go the full length of organising, staging, and celebrating a talk shop in these lean economic times, characterised by moderate socio-economic activities.
Lagos State is one where the government stopped civil servants level 12 and below from coming to work, companies have reduced hours and days of operations, cut down salaries, banks have laid off staff with some branches on weekly operational rotation, yet the Government embarked on the jamboree called Ehingbeti 2021. The decision of the State Government to embark on the Ehingbeti 2021 Jamboree after its postponement in November 2020 is a poor one considering the huge financial implication, ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with the imposed high cost of testing, lull in economic and business activities, and the imperative for leadership by example.
It is so insensitive at this point, that the Lagos State Government which is the foremost preacher of the “new norm” could not stay with a virtual economic summit, rather chose to offend the sensibilities of Nigerians with the staging of a live event plus live television coverage of a talk shop with all the fanfare and pageantry devoid of any sensitivity to the prevailing public health situation in the state.
Ehingbeti 2021 was simply business as usual in spite of the failed attempts to observe the Covid-19 protocols and guidelines. From the prestigious but expensive venue, decorations and branding, stage and lighting, live television coverage, A list attendees, one mask-wearing and the other non mask-wearing comperes, event managers, security agents, a retinue of aides, including pre-event and post-event promotions and media cost, Ehingbeti 2021 in my very well considered opinion was purely an unnecessary and avoidable talk shop extravaganza.
What is the compelling reason for staging the live event when global organisations, federal and state governments, private organisations and public institutions are engaging and deploying technology in the new norm? What is the opportunity cost of not holding the event the way and manner the Lagos State Government did? What did anybody say or profess at the event that could not have been done virtually? What is the advantage of the physical presence of the attendees including the Oba of Lagos?
What will the LASG do with all the intellectual submissions at the live event for a greater Lagos that will still not be compiled, processed, and analysed in their offices at a later date? What are the other areas begging for attention in the state that the huge expenditure on Ehingbeti 2021 would meet adequately with greater impact on Lagosians? Or was it a crass display of gross insensitivity by the LASG which embarked on business as usual in a business unusual season? Couldn’t the LASG not identify the huge public relations and reputation management opportunity in a virtual Ehingbeti 2021?
Maybe the live event of Ehingbeti 2021 at the luxurious Eko Convention Centre is another job for the boys, an opportunity to spread largesse and implement the budgetary provisions of the 2021 budget to the consternation of well-meaning and patriotic Lagosians.