Mr. Buhari’s gesture followed a request by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to have the 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, Abba Kyari, to Mr. Ambode.
In a statement on Sunday signed by Lagos State’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, Mr. Ambode said 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”.
The statement said with the presidential approval, Mr. Ambode has 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,” Mr. Ambode said.
“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.”
It 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 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,” said Mr. Ambode.
“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 statement added that the governor’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 will emerge between Marina and Broad Street and the entire zone to tourists and local visitors.
In addition, Mr. 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.