President Muhammadu Buhari has handed over the Presidential Lodge at the Lagos state government house to the administration of Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of the state.
Buhari’s approval was communicated in a letter signed by Abba Kyari, his chief of staff.
The president’s gesture followed a request by Ambode, who said he planned to turn the lodge to a heritage centre.
Steve Ayorinde, commissioner for information and strategy, said the state government would design and equip the place to become a tourist arena.
He said it would be open to local and international visitors.
Ayorinde quoted Ambode as saying the president’s large heart demonstrated his admiration of Lagos as the Centre of Excellence “that was well suited to become Africa’s foremost hub for arts, entertainment and tourism”.
“On behalf of the government and people of Lagos State, I wish to express our gratitude to President Buhari for his kind hand-over of the Presidential Lodge at Marina to the Lagos State Government,” read a statement issued by Lagos 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.
“The promise is that the interest of Lagosians will always be paramount in his heart.”
The statement said Buhari’s approval came at a time when the state executive council had approved that the old Lagos House, Marina, be turned into Lagos History Centre for tourism.
It said the proposed History Centre would be a mark of honour for former governors of the state as well as for the “benefit of mankind as a whole”.
“With the handing over of the Presidential Lodge which is next door to the old Lagos House, we will begin a process that will transform the whole area into a culture zone in the next two to three years,” it said.
“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-sectoral culture zone.”
The statement added that the governor’s plan for Marina-Onikan culture zone included a skywalk that would connect Marina all the way to the Freedom Park on Broad Street.