Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, on Sunday, expressed a heartfelt gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the hand-over of the Presidential Lodge in Marina to the Lagos State Government.
Buhari’s gesture followed a request by Governor Ambode to have the Presidential Lodge released to the Lagos State Government in its bid to transform the Marina-Onikan axis into a world-class arts and tourism hub.
The president’s approval was communicated in a letter signed by his Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari.
In a statement signed by the State’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, Governor Ambode thanked President Buhari for his kind gesture and magnanimity, saying the president’s large heart demonstrated 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.”
The statement said with the presidential approval, Governor Ambode had consequently unveiled plans to turn the erstwhile lodge to ‘The Heritage Centre for Leadership.’
It said this would subsequently be redesigned and equipped as a landmark research and tourist arena that would 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,” Governor Ambode said.
It added that Buhari’s approval had come at a time that the old Lagos State House in Marina, which is next door to the Presidential Lodge, was also being prepared for a transformation to ‘The Lagos History Centre,’ as a mark of honour to and celebration of all former governors of the state, as well as for the benefit of humankind as a whole.
It would be recalled that the State Executive Council had already 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.
“These two buildings will be nurtured as world-class monuments by the Lagos State Government to compliment the ongoing larger plan that aims to transform the Marina-Onikan axis into a multi-sectorial culture zone,” the governor said.
The statement added that Governor Ambode’s plan for Marina-Onikan culture zone includes a skywalk that would connect Marina all the way to the Freedom Park on Broad Street in order to offer the ultimate view of the ‘culture arcade’ that would emerge between Marina and Broad Street and the entire zone to tourists and local visitors.
In addition, Governor Ambode said the axis would also accommodate a Tourist Welcome Centre that comprises of a multi layer car park, mall, Lagos Aquarium Centre and other tourist facilities.