Lagos State – Amidst rich cultural display, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Sunday handed over the reconstructed and renewed Palace of the Oba of Lagos (Iga Idugnganran) to the incumbent Royal Father, Oba Riliwanu Aremu Osuolale Akiolu 1.
Governor Fashola, who performed the colourful ceremony at the Palace Grounds in Central Lagos, also noted that the privilege was being be extended to other members of his Council of Chief some of whose palaces, he said, are already at various stages of renewal.
In his address before the capacity audience comprising former governors of Lagos State, members of the national and State Assemblies, traditional rulers from within and outside the State as well as past and serving government officials, Governor Fashola said the renewal of the Palace was part of the Urban Renewal of Lagos which, according to him, started in 1955.
According to the Governor, “Many Governors, long before me, have contributed their quota in one way or the other”, adding that it is only meet and proper to acknowledge their contributions which have culminated in the final handover ceremony.
Such past governors, Governor Fashola said, include, Brigadier General Mobolaji Johnson, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Sir Michael Otedola “and, of course, the most impactful of them, the Asiwaju of Lagos, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu” adding that the decision to attack the Urban Renewal of Lagos from the regeneration of the Oba’s Palace was entirely the idea of his immediate predecessor.
“I am only privileged to continue that vision. I recall that in many of the Executive Council debates, we used to wish that after the rebuilding of all this, we will receive tourists by the hundreds and millions who will come through the lagoon in a boat regatta to come and pay obeisance to our Oba in the same way that many people go to visit the Buckingham Palace”, Governor Fashola said assuring the former Governor that his dream would come true one day.
Thanking the Oba of Lagos for his commitment to the completion of the project, the Governor declared, “This is not just a Government project. It was a project that you pursued with passion and in spite of the knowledge that this will one day be a house that will not belong to you, even as we pray that your reign endures for many years to come, you pursued it nonetheless in demonstration of your long standing commitment and service to the development of Lagos”.
He said the Government also plans to preserve one of the ancient buildings in the palace “in the most contemporary manner” to be part of the history and structure of the Palace adding that the Government is already discussing with experts who know about preservation of old buildings.
On the renewal of the palaces of other members of the Council of Obas, Governor Fashola said, “In Kabiyesi’s time, this Government will continue to renew the palaces of other members of the Council of Chiefs. As I speak, the palaces of the four Vice Chairmen of the Council are in various stages of reconstruction. Other members are pursuing the renovation and reconstruction of their palaces”.
The Governor also paid tribute to the construction company, Messrs Julius Berger Nigeria Plc for the excellent work it did in the Palace Renewal project, prasising also the vision of the first Military Governor of the State, Brig. Gen. Mobolaji Johnson, Alhaji Femi Okunnu and others who facilitated the coming of the company to Lagos and Nigeria.
In his goodwill message earlier, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu commended Governor Fashola whom he described as “the Actualizer”, for actualizing the vision of the Palace Renewal Project.
“Today is a very proud day for me. I thank Governor Fashola for keeping to the continuity of our vision, for his dedication and commitment to the values of Lagos State and the shared vision of all of us”, the former Governor said, adding, “Lagos State is the heart of Tourism and it should start from here”.
Also speaking, the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona commended Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his successor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) for the wonderful honour they have done to the institution of Obaship in Lagos State with the new Palace.
Oba Adetona also called for the appreciation and recognition of the institution of traditional rulers by the Government because of its reverence and credibility.
In his message of solidarity, the Olowo of Owo, Oba Olateru Olagbegi thanked all the Governors of Lagos for a job well done and for providing an enabling environment to the Obas in the State.
He also expressed appreciation to the State Government for the befitting palace which it has provided to the Oba of Lagos saying it can rank well with any of its contemporaries all over the world.
While giving an historical insight into the Iga Idunganran, former Federal Commissioner for Works, Alhaji Femi Okunnu (SAN) said what used to be the Iga has moved from its former position to give way to a befitting edifice worthy of the status of the Oba of Lagos.
Alhaji Okunnu commended Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and his predecessor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for bringing honour to the institution of Oba in Lagos.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Engineer Ganiyu Johnson expressed the belief that the good people of Lagos Island particularly Isale Eko will find the new Palace ground as an enhancement of their environment which they will protect jealously from any form of vandalisation and abuse.
He added that the upgrading of the palace which commenced in 2004 is being holistically planned to be executed in phases while also listing some of the facilities in the new structure to include the renovated old traditional courts of the late Obas of Lagos, the main palace building with several mini halls and reception areas as well as the Royal residence.
The Palace also include the twin duplex blocks for the Oloris, an apartment block of six three-bedroom luxury flats with stacked sit-out pavilions, an external industrial kitchen as well as water booster station that has capacity to serve the whole complex and beyond with pressurized potable water.
Other facilities are an 800kva power back-up systems, interlocking driveways and landscaping and high retaining wall perimeter fence with complimentary drains
Prominent among those who attended the handing over ceremony were former Governors Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, members of the State Executive Council, Senators Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon and Muniru Muse, Local Government Council and Local Council Development Areas Chairmen, traditional rulers from all divisions of the State and eminent personalities from all walks of life like Chief Bola Ajibola and former Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Musiliu Smith.