Buhari: Eko Atlantic City, Catalyst for National Development

  •  Tinubu seeks replication across coastal states
  •  Ambode asks FG to cede National Stadium

By Gboyega Akinsanmi

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday inspected Eko Atlantic City in Lagos, one of the world’s cutting-edge new cities under construction on a 750 square kilometres adjacent to Victoria Island, noting that the project would transform the domestic economy of Nigeria.

Buhari, who inspected the emerging coastal city alongside a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu,  noted that the development of the city had boosted job creation and revenue generation in the state.

Besides the APC leader, the President toured the length and breadth of Africa’s largest coastal city alongside Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode and Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed among others.

Conceived to solve the acute shortage of real estate in Lagos State and save Victoria Island from the rage of ocean surge under the Tinubu administration, Buhari said he was extremely impressed with the potentiality of the project.

After Ambode conducted him around the emerging coastal city for about two hours, Buhari acknowledged that he was extremely impressed with the potentiality of this project.

The President, specifically, admitted that he was equally impressed by the number of jobs the project would generate.

He said: “I am extremely grateful to those that agreed to invest so much on our country. I am really grateful to those who accepted to invest in our country with the aim of getting a secured area. The Eko Atlantic City is good for operations.

“The city is capable of handling big business and investment throughout Africa. I am truly impressed with what it is capable of bringing,” the President acknowledged.

After the inspection that ended with the unveiling of plaque, Tinubu provided insight into how his administration conceived the project between 2003 and 2007 to solve the problem of ocean surge that almost brought the area under the sea.

He noted that a potential liability and disaster had been converted to asset of prosperity for the nation. “I am very proud of the Eko Atlantic City project. Human asset is the most important in any country. Nigeria is blessed with a long coastal region that passed through Ondo, Delta and Port Harcourt.

“If the federal government can build the defence wall against the tides; embark on it and construct the coastal roads as one of the choice road to Port Harcourt from Lagos, one can cut the journey to Port Harcourt by road into half.

“Such project will boost the economy of tourism along the coastline. There is space for a Disney world of our own. To take economy to another level, it cannot be achieved by private sector alone. There is need for government incentive and active participation.”

Giving insight into the potentials of the Eko Atlantic City, Ambode said: “The city is a multi-billion dollar project expected to accommodate over 150,000 people. Another 250,000 will work and commute within the city on a daily basis.”

 He said the project was a practical example of how the private sector could partner with government to boost the economy

At a dinner organised in honour of the President at the Eko Hotel & Suites Thursday night, Ambode urged Buhari to consider the possibility of granting Lagos a special status to enable it sustain its position as the driver of the country’s economic growth.

About 26 years after the federal capital was relocated from Lagos to Abuja, the governor lamented that the state had been left to strive for development without much federal support.

“Despite the strategic position the state plays in the nation’s economy, there was still much untapped potentials and opportunities for economic, social and cultural growth in the state.”

For these potentials to be realised, he said the state would need federal support. “Several attempts by some eminent personalities to push for a special status for Lagos as well as a bill seeking to accord the State same was turned down by the Senate.”

He thanked the federal government for yielding the state’s request to reconstruct the Oshodi International Airport Road into a 10-lane world-class road and transform the Presidential Lodge Marina into a monument and cultural legacy.

Ambode also seized the occasion to request the President to cede the ownership and management of the National Stadium, Surulere and the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu to the state government to enable it revive them.

“This is not too much to ask but we are reassured that our President is a listening father who understands the yearnings of Lagos residents. We are confident that he would listen and respond positively to the demands of about one-eighth of the nation’s population resident in Lagos.”