What Osinbajo Said About The Dome ~ By Chud Uchegbu
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo last Friday, commissioned Nigeria’s iconic entertainment and hospitality center, The Dome in Abuja. It was a commissioning like no other. Many doubted that he would make it to the commissioning because it was scheduled to begin at 6pm, the Vice President showed up to the admiration of guests who had waited since 4pm to welcome him.
His arrival changed the evening. From walking the red carpet to cutting the ribbon to declare The Dome officially open, the Vice President took a tour of the facility to appreciate what Dr. Obiora Okonkwo has been able to put on ground.
Beginning from The Twins Bakery and Café, Vice President Osinbajo, accompanied by Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who arrived The Dome an hour earlier, was led by Dr. Okonkwo through The Summit Restaurant where he had a good view of The Wesley Snipes Lounge and the Stachmo/Cigar Lounge down through The Bowling Alley, where he bowled, probably for the first time.
The tour continued through to The Francis Hotel down to the BodyTrust Gym and Fitness Center up to The Camelot Spa and out to The Noni’s Pizzaria and Paradisio Garden where he was welcomed to a crowd that had gathered to catch a glimpse of him. It was like a rock star had arrived The Dome.
Sitting by the pool side and enjoying the cool evening breeze made romantic by the decorations and lighting systems, the Vice President relished what may pass as the most profound commissioning exercise thus far of his time in office. Indeed, it was like no other official commissioning.
Thrilled by comedian, Ali Baba, with an array of Nigeria’s great pool of musical and entertainment acts, the Vice President followed through as South African musical ‘couple’, Mafikizolo got everyone present dancing and romancing the evening, with a breeze so cool and massaging like the breeze in Shanghai.
Aproko would take over the stage moments later with quality jokes that got the Vice President and his team laughing all through.
With many entertainers pushing to grab a selfie with him, the Vice President welcomed himself to a more relaxing evening and preferred to address the audience without the officialdom that his vice presidential podium comes with.
Speaking from his seat beside Dr. Okonkwo, Vice President Osinbajo said The Dome was nothing like he had seen before in Nigeria. He paid glowing tribute to Okonkwo for investing heavily in exploring Nigeria’s alterative to oil, as he put it.
He expressed delight at facilities he saw at The Dome. He reminded of the great potentials that the creative industry offered Nigeria and figured that by 2020, Nigeria would be raking it about $1billion annually from entertainment alone.
He also expressed optimism that with investments such as The Dome, Nigeria would square up to the likes of Dubai in diversifying away from oil.
The Vice President said: “we have looked around and we have seen what is here. But, it is not just about what is here, but about the great potentials here offers. First, the facilities are world class and the concept of the place (The Dome), is interesting”.
He also said: “I think what is more important is what this place (The Dome) is dong for this city. It really signals where we want to be. Entertainment and tourism are clearly the new money makers for our country”.
“This is like Dubai, for example. They produce as much oil as we produce on a daily basis, yet, oil is just 20 peen of Dubai’s revenue. Most of it comes from tourism and entertainment and this is where our country ought to be going. It is so important for us to ensure that this sort of place is given the encouragement that we can give.
“I am quite certain that this is just the beginning for The Dome Entertainment center and that we should really expect more. What the federal government intends to do is to provide the environment to make businesses easier to do.
“We are going to continue working on security and ensuring that our country is peaceful and that our country is an exciting pace that it is for so many people”.
The Vice President’s speech was appreciated by the audience, who were seeing him ‘hanging’ out with ordinary folks, with a rousing applause. They wanted more of his time and he shared as much of it as he could.
Earlier, Dr. Okonkwo had invited the federal government to partner with private sector investors to recreate Nigeria through tourism and entertainment.
He spoke of the vast potentials that the creative industry offers the economy in terms of revenue generation and job creation adding that with government support through tax breaks and other such incentives, investors like him, will change the narrative on Nigeria.
He said: “For us at The Dome, the realities present opportunities for more investments in the sector. That is what we have just done. We have created a wholly indigenous brand in the hospitality industry which we will nurture and grow to compete with similar brands around the world.
With over 300 workers, Nigerians and expatriates, we are looking forward to expand, create more jobs and mop up more youths from the unemployment market.
In this regard, we have plans to establish The Dome Hospitality Training Institute, which will have international affiliations, to help in the development of vital manpower for the industry.
“For me as a venture capitalist, what I look out for more than anything else is the impact that our modest efforts make in the lives of our people and society.
“Here at The Dome, we have successfully created an enterprise that houses nine outlets including a Bowling Alley and games arcade which offers the best of bowling and table games;
“The Twin Café and Bakery where coffee tastes better with an array of pastries;
“The Paradisio which allows visitors to enjoy the best of outdoors with a poolside view;
“The Summit Lounge and Bar which welcomes guests to a relaxing feel with awesome cuisine;
“The Francis Hotel which is a boutique hotel presentation that offers guests a royal pampering;
“The Camelot Spa which is equipped to manage your beauty and wellness;
“The Wesley Snipes Lounge named in honour of Nollywood star, Wesley Snipes, who was guest of The Dome in 2005 when we began our modest effort at positive imaging for Nigeria, and,
“The Bodytrust Fitness and Health Center which is tailored to keep you fit always, among other lounges.
“Our projection is that some of these outlets will, in the nearest future, become independent brands operating under The Dome umbrella.
“Mr. VP sir, we are fully committed to playing our role in recreating perception about our country.
“By developing and sustaining The Dome brand, we open our gates to the international community and development partners to find in us an ally in changing the narrative on Nigeria.
“Top rate UK DJ, Tim Westwood left here with very positive images of Nigeria. We shall not disappoint the positive Nigerian spirit.
“As a proudly Nigerian entertainment and hospitality business, we will showcase the best of Nigeria’s creative talents in entertainment and culinary.
“We shall make sure that the Nigerian flag flies higher here.
“I want therefore to use this opportunity to invite government to partner The Dome in its social empowerment programme for youths. The Dome is well positioned to drive the policy and bring about the change we crave.”
The three day event attracted musical performances from Flavour (Flavour Nabania) who thrilled his fans with his brand of music.
It also brought together top rate DJs like Jimmy Jatt, Spinall, Waxxy, TTB, Yin, who stirred the wheel to keep Abuja on its feet all weekend.
By Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu