By Kunle SHONUGA
Some patrons of the famous Afrikan Shrine in Ikeja, Lagos State, on Wednesday, said that the nightclub could transform to a money-spinner for Lagos State Government and the Federal Government.
The patrons stated this in Lagos, 24 hours after the President of France, Mr Emmanuel Macron and Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode visited the nightclub.
The club was founded by the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
Olajide Olamide, a patron, who described himself as a businessman said that the visit of Macron had opened the shrine to the world.
“This place is a tourism hub where both the Federal Government and the Lagos State Government can derive huge revenue. The visit of the President of France has raised the profile of the Afrikan Shrine. The world will want to visit Nigeria to see the shrine.
“This is our heritage and the shrine can be a revenue earner in terms of tourism. Is a rare opportunity for the President of France to be here in the shrine,’’ Olamide said.
Another patron of the shrine, who preferred anonymity, said he had not been there in the last two months, “I am here today (Wednesday) because of the visit of the President of France Yesterday,’’ he said.
According to him, is a pleasure and something good for a young president to have chosen to be here (shrine) because this is a place government never bothered about. “Government never knew that the shrine is a cultural heritage to some Nigerians,’’ he said.
Ibrahim Osaze, said he was impressed that the President of France honoured the patrons of the shrine by paying a visit. “Government can go as far as building other monuments like the shrine to attract more tourists into the country.
“The African Shrine has been a trail-blazer culturally. It has gone beyond being seen as a musical theatre. This place is like a home to many people and this is real Africa in its natural setting,’’ Osaze, a protocol officer said.
Another patron, Sunday Olubusayo, who works with an audit firm, said: “Is not everybody that comes here, comes to smoke. “Some people think that those who come here are bad. They did not know we are serious people. Some are serious but there are still hooligans and `corporate’ people.
“Some are `corporate’ individuals who cannot smoke outside but can come here and smoke quietly,’’ Olubusayo said.
He commended the President of France for not underrating the patrons of the nightclub. Olubusayo, who said he was just coming from his office, explained that his mission was to meet a client in the shrine.
The Chief Security Officer of the shrine, Always Isa-Abdullahi said that diplomats and other highly-placed people worldwide visited the shrine. Isa-Abdullahi, who described himself as the Head of Boys in the shrine, said that he had been working there for 18 years and started as a labourer.
“We comply with Femi and Yeni’s instructions because both of them are peace-loving. They always comply with the rules and regulations of the country and if anybody quarrels with us, they would tell us to seek Police intervention,” he said.
Isa-Abdullahi gave an assurance that foreigners and Nigerians were safe at any time of the day in the shrine, especially those coming into the country at night.
He said: “The shrine is now open 24 hours for the past 10 years. Before now, it used to open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with music. Femi plays between 7 p.m. to 12 midnight every Thursday.’’
Macron described the shrine as an iconic place for a lot of African people and African culture. He said the late Fela and his sons, Femi and Seun are very famous in France and Europe.