Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has promised an 11-year-old hyperrealist artist, Kareem Olamilekan, to realise his full potential in art.
Olamilekan did the state proud by drawing a stunning portrait of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, in just two hours on the spot, during the Macron’s visit to the new Afrika Shrine in Lagos, last Tuesday.
The governor made the promise when he hosted the artist alongside his parents, teachers and instructor, during which he also pledged educational support.
Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, who briefed journalist after the governor hosted the boy at Government House, Alausa, Ikeja, said the government appreciated the boy’s efforts
“You would recall that Olamilekan was one of the star attractions during President Macron’s visit to Afrika Shrine. Before painting the president and presenting the portrait to him, Olamilekan had become a household name, thanks to the special story done by a media house.
“So, the governor invited him and his parents to come and meet him, and because the governor is interested in his education and, if you like, the welfare of his parents, His Excellency has promised to assist just like he did to the Footprint of David boys, who had a special performance at the State House during the Children’s Day.
“So, the governor is interested in his education. We are happy that Olamilekan is a product of a public school and you could see that the principal of his school is here and she is happy. The governor has also acknowledged the contribution of Olamilekan’s mentor, Adewole, who is here, and because he also has an Arts Academy that inspired and produced Kareem, the governor thinks that arts academy should flourish, and he is going to, also, support him, his career and what he is doing,” Ayorinde said.
He said since the works of the young artist became public knowledge, the government had taken special interest in his case, adding that the objective of government is to ensure good education and training for Olamilekan to become a great artist later in life.
“The Ministry of Education has been involved from day one since the story was reported, but our Ministry (Tourism, Arts and Culture) will also be monitoring Olamilekan. He is already in JSS1; he is talented as an artist, but, then, that is not the only subject he would be taking.
“We want him to be a successful well-rounded student first and foremost, and, of course, as an artist. It is a long haul thing, but first, good education, and let him continue as a good artist,” the commissioner said.
Olamilekan, who was appreciative of Ambode’s gesture, said he was extremely thrilled to meet with President Macron and Governor Ambode. He descriubed the development as a life-changing moment for him.
“I am very happy and excited. I thank Governor Ambode for this opportunity. Now, I want to study my arts very well; I want to be a great artist in the world,” Olamilekan said.
His parents, Mr and Mrs Mutiu Kareem, said the feat attained by their son was a significant turning point in their lives, and thanked the state government for the support they have, so far, received.
“I thank God for this. What has happened in my life through my son is something I never thought would happen to me but this is a miracle. I am so happy. I want to thank Governor Ambode for all he has done for us and also my son’s instructor who trained him, as well as his teachers and mother,” Mr. Kareem said.