…State assures of turning edifice to Intl. tourist centre
The Federal Government today officially handed over the Presidential Lodge, Marina, to the Lagos State government.
The hand over process followed the promise and directive of President Muhammadu Buhari for the edifice to be ceded to Lagos State for use as a World Tourist Destination on the request of Governor Akinwumi Ambode.
The Permanent Secretary, State House, Marina, Jalal Arabi, who led a strong federal government delegation, in an emotional handover urged the Lagos State government to judiciously use the edifice, maintain it and protect its structural and historic Integrity.
Arabic, who was quite emotional about the matter, described the Lodge as very historic, one which is of great significance to the nation. He said when he got the marching order from the president, he was disturbed but that he had no choice but to obey the directive.
He said the feeling he got was like that of a father who was on the verge of giving out his daughter in marriage- a mixture of sadness and fear of what to expect. He however said like the same father who becomes happy when all his fears had been allayed, as he realises that his daughter is well taken care of; he was indeed happy that the federal government was handing over the Lodge to a capable hand such as Lagos.
“We are handing over this Lodge in the spirit of one Nigeria. It represents a rich historical edifice which is very dear to us. We have been able to maintain it all these years and we expect and believe the Lagos State government will be able to do same, now that they’re taking possession of it,” Arabi said.
Secretary to the Lagos State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, who represented governor Akinwunmi Ambode at the auspicious occasion, and who also headed the Lagos State team of the Joint Committee on the handover, signed an M.O.U releasing the historic edifice in the presence of some other cabinet members comprising mostly of Commissioners, and the federal government delegation.
On behalf of the governor and people of Lagos State, Bello expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for his statesman-like gesture by releasing the edifice to Lagosians and the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, for making the handover realisable. He also thanked the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, for his untiring assistance, especially throughout the process.
According to Bello, “The successful handover of this structure, which represents one of the landmarks of the city of Lagos is an eloquent testimony to the new dawn of politics of tolerance and inclusiveness which the All Progressives Congress has brought to the Nigerian landscape.
“Let me assure you that the State will put the edifice to the best and most judicious use while ensuring it’s transformation without compromising its structural integrity and preserving its architectural finesse and beauty.
“We will ensure that the edifice becomes a tourist destination which residents of Lagos in particular and Nigerians in general would not only be proud but which compares to similar ones in distant locations.”
The Presidential Lodge, built before Independence in 1960, has housed several Presidents and military Heads of State, before the relocation of Nigeria’s capital to Abuja.