In view of the successes being recorded by the Lagos State Government in reducing the spread of the deadly Coronavirus disease, Night Club owners have pleaded with the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu to consider the reopening of their businesses, just as they promised to ensure strict adherence to all existing COVID-19 safety protocols.
Representatives of owners of night clubs in the State made this plea when they visited the leadership of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture in Alausa, Ikeja, over the inactivity in the sector since the Statewide lockdown last year.
The Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Pharm (Mrs) Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, while welcoming the visitors, empathised with the night club operators, explaining that the State Government understands the pains, the financial losses and the employment threat which the inactivity in the Sector could have generated.
She lamented the inability of practitioners in the night club business to come together as a unified group for ease of interaction and exchange of correspondence, saying that the night club owners do not belong to any umbrella body or recognised association known to the Ministry.
This, the Commissioner said, made it difficult for the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, to relate with them, while also accommodating their position on some salient issues as it affects their operations.
Akinbile-Yussuf expressed the fear of another surge in the reported cases of COVID-19, saying that the State Government is now more circumspect than before so that its efforts and successes already recorded in stemming the spread of the virus will not be thwarted.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Solomon Bonu explained that the present emphasis is on regulating the activities of the operators of nightclubs in the State.
Bonu affirmed that some clubhouses are still in operation contrary to the directive from the government, describing the development as very daring and illegal.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Princess Adenike Adedoyin-Ajayi, expressed the willingness of the State Government to keep the club owners in business but for the outbreak of COVID-19.
Her words: “You are a major contributor to the State’s GDP, most importantly the night economy of Lagos. We desire to allow you to operate so that you can continue to perform your civic responsibilities, but the situation we found ourselves in was unexpected, hence the position of the State government”.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor, Mr. Tunji Seymour said that the Ministry is prepared to “go hard” on recalcitrant operators, peradventure the Governor approves their reopening.
In a passionate appeal presented by a Solicitor to the visitors, Toyin Sonoiki on behalf of the club owners, the night club owners pleaded with the State Governor to consider their plight, their dependents as well as the welfare of thousands of their staff, with a pledge to submit their operations for regulation under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
He said, “We have continued to pay our staff and still pay some other statutory bills even though we have shut our businesses since a year ago; to say that we’re running at a loss is even an understatement, that’s why we’re pleading for consideration from the government”.
The Night club owners promised to join hands with the government to identify clubs not complying with COVID-19 protocols, noting that the State Government should not compromise the security of lives and property of its residents.