Accordingly to historical accounts, “Madam Tinubu, the first Nigeria woman to buy a car, was a courageous human rights activist, outspoken person, fearless, strong woman, a warrior from Egbaland in Abeokuta, Ogun State. She also fought for the Egba people in order to gain their freedom. In recognition of her bravery, she was honoured with the chieftaincy title of Iyalode of Egbaland. She was among those who helped Akintoye to get to the throne as Oba of Lagos. She fought against Dahomey, when they were tormenting the Egba; later she left Lagos in 1856 during the reign of Dosunmu. She died in 1887 and was given a befitting burial by the Egba. After her death in 1887, the place was named after her because in 1807, when the British prohibited slave trade, she and some other Nigerians immensely contributed to make sure the law against the inhuman practice was successfully carried out because Lagos was a stopping point along the slave coast.”
However and until recently, it was a home to ungraceful lawns, flowers and dried fountains. It was also a ready abode for beggars, hawkers, roadside traders and motorists, including okada riders. Today, the famous Tinubu Square is tourists friendly and houses a functional fountain, remodeled and painted statues of Madam Efunroye Tinubu, the legendary Kokoro, the blind drummer, wings of liberty and knowledge is power. It has been lifted from squalor to grace with a 24-hour power supply, security and functioning conveniences.
This development is a fall-out of Lagos State Government’s decision to embark on strategic investment of building more iconic monuments and renovating historical sites across the state.
Expectedly, the square among others, houses a very conspicuous cenotaph in memory of Madam Efunroye Tinubu, the irrepressible opponent of slave trade and British colonial government. The cenotaph was dedicated by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration (1999 to 2007) to inspire millions of women to acts of heroism and sacrifice for the common good.
Of all the tourist sites in the state, Tinubu Square has an enviable record of being one of the most visited sites by Lagosians and tourists, no thanks to its location in the heart of Lagos Central Business District. Historically, Tinubu Square sits on a 2000 square meter piece of land believed to have been donated to the British by Madam Tinubu, a wealthy businesswoman and activist. The structure that was built on the land was the Court of Assizes, a magnificent edifice. The Court of Assizes was demolished to pave way for the construction of a tourist water fountain, donated by the Lebanese Community in Nigeria to commemorate Nigeria’s independence from British rule in 1960.
But what makes today’s Tinubu Square a much sought-after site by fun seekers and tourists? Is it the history behind the square or the size and location of the facility? Everything about the square certainly adds up. Apart from the facelift given to the facilities in the square, a 24-hour security is maintained by security officials, who stationd their patrol vehicles near the square. Movement in and around the square has become orderly and safe, as there are no more street hawkers and traders. Also, steady power supply is another big asset and attraction for visitors to the place at nighttime. In fact, the square is enhanced by a well-lit environment, beautified with trees, flowers and its landscape laced with strong pave blocks.
According to a staff of Kenny Adamson International, the company maintaining the square, Tayo Owolabi, people visit Tinubu Square mostly in the evenings and night when the illumination from the power supply lits up the environment.
“The light is one of the major attractions because of the colourful illumination at night. At such time, commercial activities in the area are on the low side, thereby and safety and comfort are assured,” he said, noting that the neighbouring corporate offices and shops are reaping from the sanity in the square courtesy of the renovation.”
A soothing cold breeze from the rising and tumbling water in the beautifully designed Zebra fountain greet every guest to the square. Hemmed by newly painted iron bars, the walkways provide easier access for visitors to move round the different statues located within the square.
At the unveiling of the newly renovated Tinubu Square last month, Governor Ambode reiterated his administration’s vision to use art, culture, entertainment and hospitality to promote Lagos State as the hub of creative arts and tourism in Africa. Represented by the Special Adviser and Acting Commissioner of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Adebimpe Akinshola, the governor stated that the decision to renovate Tinubu Square was informed by the need to upgrade it to a level that befit the status of the Lagos Central Business District (CBD). He stated that the development was also part of the present administration’s plan to develop the Marina and Onikan axis to world class tourism destination.
He said: “All over the world, monuments are erected as a way of preserving human history and upholding societal values and ethics. They are testament of selfless leadership, valour and bravery of great men and women who have contributed significantly to the development of mankind.”
He described Madam Tinubu’s statue as a magnificent monument erected in memory of a valiant woman, Madam Efunroye Tinubu, the first Iyalode of Egbaland and one of the greatest merchants of colonial Lagos.
Continuing, he said: “As we all know, this magnificent monument was erected in memory of a valiant woman, Madam Efunroye Tinubu, the first Iyalode of Egbaland and one of the greatest merchants of colonial Lagos. It is a celebration of her exploits in the business world and contribution to the foremost status to which our state has attained in the world of commerce and for us as a government and in line with our administration’s commitment to harness the tourism potentials of our state, historical monuments such as this will continue to be given a face lift and outlook.”
The Governor who called for the cooperation of the residents in protecting the site against vandalism and distortion of its historical and tourism value said that it was the collective responsibility of all to preserve the rich cultural heritage in the state for the present generation and generations yet unborn.
According to Governor Ambode, Lagos State government will continue to use artistic facilities such as the Tinubu Square and others been constructed across the State to showcase our positive attractions and create a must-visit appetite for both domestic and foreign tourists.
The unveiling of the fountain was attended by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Central Business Districts Agboola Dabiri, the Sole Administrator Lagos Island East Council Development Area Abiola Are and the sole Administrator Lagos Island Local Government Nasir Musa among others.
The joy of most business owners in the neighbouring streets such as Custom, Broad, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Ali know no bound. Expressing the minds of many is a 65-year-old textile merchant, Mr. Chuks Tony Ike, who owns a major store at Tinubu described the renovation as a new dawn.
He said it has transformed the entire district from a rowdy and chaotic place to a saner business environment. This, he said, has enhanced commercial activities, which in turn affected their returns positively. He said: “In the years I have spent operating my textile business here in Tinubu, the sanity and order currently experienced here are next to none. Apart from the fact that it is now more secured than before, the power supply has added colour and glamour to the street especially at night. Again, such lighting attracts friends and peers to relax at the square when many homes are without light.”
The youths are however not left out in the increasing army of patrons. A female undergraduate and resident of Lagos Island simply identified as Nifemi disclosed that the new look square has drawn most of her friends to the place for taking selfie photographs in the evening. “As for us, Tinubu Square is our own Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. It is fast becoming the face of Lagos Island in tourism affairs,” she said.