Several months after the presidency approved the request of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to release the State House, Marina, to Lagos State, both parties on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) formally ceding the House to Lagos State Government.
The agreement was signed on behalf of Lagos by Tunji Bello, secretary to the state government, while Jalal Arabi, permanent secretary in the State House, signed on behalf of the Federal Government.
Lagos plans to turn the monument into a tourist site in line with the vision of Governor Ambode to use tourism to further promote the economy of Lagos, and create jobs.
Ambode, it would be recalled, had also requested the release of the Airport Road, to the stat for redevelopment, a request which the Federal Government also granted.
Speaking at the handing over of the building, Bello said the state government would not compromise the structural integrity of the house.
According to Bello, the edifice will become one which residents of Lagos and Nigerians in general would not only be proud of, but will also compares to similar ones in other climes. He assured that the state would put the edifice to the best and most judicious use.
“The successful handover of the structure represents one of the landmarks of the city of Lagos and an eloquent testimony to the new dawn of politics of tolerance and inclusiveness which the All Progressives Congress (APC) has brought to the Nigerian landscape”, he added.
Bello on behalf of Governor Ambode and the people of Lagos expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for his statesman like gesture in the approval of the release of the edifice to the Lagos.
He also applauded the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and the minister of power, Wlworks and housing, Babatunde Fashola for helping out in the handover process.
“The list of appreciation will be incomplete without mentioning the permanent secretary in the State House, Abuja, Jalal Arabi with whom I co-chaired the committee that midwifed the handover process for the painstaking job. Same goes for all the directors,” Bello said.
The permanent secretary, Arabi who described the occasion as a solemn one because of the emotional attachment that most of the staff have towards the complex, said they were happy it was a smooth transition process.
He said the several months of perfecting the transfer of the ownership was a family discussion which was devoid of any bitter feelings expressing delight that he and his team carried out the directives of the presidency concerning the handover of the edifice and ensuring that all the equipments and properties were not removed.
He described President Muhammadu Buhari as a statesman who believes that his word should always be his bond, adding this explains his insistence that his promise to the state government must be kept.