With all its cultural heritage, tourism appeal and business trappings, Lagos Island serves many purposes for the teaming residents that have called it home for decades.
As well, Lagos Island has also been a case study for researchers across many issues.
One of such researches is the Lagos Island Project Report, on ‘Understanding Residents’ Perspective On Recreation, Leisure, And Tourism’.
The new report, a collaboration between The Sahara Centre for the advancement of culture and tourism and Lagos Urban Development Initiative (LUDI), is the first attempt to understand and document Lagos residents’ perspectives on recreation, leisure and tourism, using Lagos Island as a case study.
As well, the report is creating the necessary awareness on the issue and also drawing stakeholders’ attention, especially government and real estate developers, to the role efficient urban planning plays at improving the quality of living among residents, healthier lifestyle and enabling infrastructure in neighborhoods such as Lagos Island.
Of course, high productivity among residents living in closer proximity to their working places is one of such benefits.
Speaking a media parley at The Sahara Centre office in Ebute Metta, Lagos, the facilitators of the report, noted that Lagos Island was chosen as case study for the maiden edition of the report because of its economic, socio-cultural importance, Afro-Brazilian heritage and historical value.
It interrogates the residents’ attitude to leisure and recreational facilities in their neighborhood, especially how accessible such facilities are to the residents.
Pointing out the lack of access to some recreational facilities such as the Lagos Theatres, the reports discovered that most residents hardly visit for lack of access, may be for lack of money or interest.
It noted why residents should be carried along in urban planning and in projects that are meant to benefit them or their communities.
“If you carry people along in the planning of their city and infrastructure, they will own the city and protect the infrastructure”, the report discovered.
Throwing more light on the report, Adun Okupe, research director, The Sahara Centre, noted that the report is timely, especially now that Lagos is making frantic efforts at transforming into an urban hub driven by innovation and productivity with the hope of further stimulating its economic growth.
On the methodology of the report, she explained that they engaged a tour guide who is an architect that understands the Afro-Brazilian heritage, amid interns from the University of Lagos and different surveys conducted with visitors, residents and business people. “We looked at key hotspots and visited on different days of the week. The people were happy that their opinions were sought. They remembered with nostalgia many provisions that were there for them like the community spaces”, she explained further.
According to Okupe, while a buoyant economy is good for a city like Lagos, the priority should be given to how the city is transformed to enable the residents to seamlessly work and play, and bring the balance required for holistic and happy living among the residents, hence the research.
Also speaking on the report at a media conferencing, which held recently at Sahara Centre’s office in Ebute Metta Lagos, Olamide Ejorh, executive director, Lagos Urban Development Initiative (LUDI), noted that no meaningful development targeted at the people will realize its objectives if the people it is meant to benefit are not carried along.
According to her, as much as government plans for infrastructural facilities and beautiful designs for the city, the people need to be involved as attempts to exclude will result in people being careless about their city, events happening and mishandling the infrastructure.
“We have elections next year and we also know that the economy is plummeting. Unfortunately, the people are not being heard and this is what stifles development and urban planning.
“This report highlights the fact that people are involved in all these decision making processes. Hence, this research talks about how we can bring people together, understand their wants and needs, and how they want to use space,’’ she said.
Some of the findings of the report include; the high consideration of leisure time as important by the residents who also engaged in various activities in their communities, and as expected safety and security concerns have hampered these leisure activities.
Also, the residents are threatened by newer development models, which seem to erode the diversity and vibrancy of their once cherished cities, displacing them with high rents and living costs. This further results in the decline of the value of existing recreational activities and attractions around them, which have become inaccessible, the report noted.
The report also explained how the findings can be applied in societal development efforts in Lagos Island, which it noted would need both private and public sector investment to make Lagos Island more attractive for residents and visitors alike, while emphasis should not be on visitor-based tourism, as the residents’ perspective is needed too.
Hitherto, Lagos has placed emphasis on visitor-based tourism – the rationale for developing and preserving culture, heritage, and spaces – which excludes the perspectives of Lagos residents.
The Sahara Centre is a not-for-profit organisation, with focus on the advancement of Nigeria’s creative industries, while LUDI is a non-governmental organisation that uses collaboration, research, and dialogue to bring organisations and people together to advocate for a more inclusive, liveable, and sustainable Lagos.