By Olasunkanmi Akoni
The Federal Government today, officially handed over the ownership of the sprawling Presidential Lodge in the Marina, to Lagos State Government.
Alhaji Jalal Arabi, Permanent Secretary, State House, Abuja, led the federal government’s delegation, while the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Mr.Tunji Bello, led the state’s delegation to the signing of document ceremony at the Lodge, Victoria Island.
Other personalities at the signing, hand over includes: Commissioner for Housing, Gbolahan Lawal, Commissioner for Energy Wale Oluwo, Commissioner for Waterfront and Infrastructure, Ade Akinsanya, Commissioner for Special Duties, Seye Oladejo and Special Adviser on Physical Planning and Urban Development, Yetunde Onabule, smong others.
Due to passion for Lagos State, as well as complement the effort in turning the state into envy of Africa, President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier approved the handing over of the Presidential Lodge to the state Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, sometimes lady year.
The Lagos state government subsequently, announced the receipt of the Lodge at Marina area of the state from President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to statement from the state government, Buhari’s gesture followed a request by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to have the lodge released in its bid to transform the Marina-Onikan axis into a world-class arts and tourism hub.
Under former Governor Babatunde Fashola, the state government had complained about the lodge that seemed to have been abandoned.
The statement on November 6 and signed by Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, confirmed that the president’s approval was communicated in a letter signed by his chief of staff, Abba Kyari, to Mr Ambode.
The statement quoted Ambode as saying that the president’s gesture was a demonstration of his “keen admiration for Lagos state as the ‘Centre of Excellence’ that is well suited to becoming Africa’s foremost hub for arts, entertainment and tourism.”
With the presidential approval, Ambode, consequently unveiled plans to turn the lodge to ‘The Heritage Centre for Leadership’, which would be redesigned and equipped as a landmark research and tourist arena that will be open to local and international visitors.
“On behalf of the government and people of Lagos State, I wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for his kind hand-over of the Presidential Lodge in Marina to the Lagos State government.
“This, in my opinion, demonstrates the President’s special interest in Lagos State, which is in line with the promise he made in Lagos during the electioneering campaign, that the interest of Lagosians will always be paramount in his heart,” the statement said.
The Lagos state government added that President Buhari’s approval had come at a time that the old Lagos state House in Marina, which is next door to the Presidential Lodge, is also being prepared for a transformation to The Lagos History Centre, as a mark of honour to and celebration of all former governors of Lagos state, as well as for the benefit of humankind as a whole.
The statement said the state executive council had approved the Lagos House Marina to be turned into Lagos History Centre for tourism purposes.
“With the handing over of the Presidential Lodge to Lagos State, the Lagos state government will begin a process that will transform the whole area into a culture zone in the next two to three years that every Lagosian will be proud of.” Ambode assured.