Member, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Setonji David, laying the foundation block. Watching are, Managing Director, Palmnto Nigeria Limited, Kalu Okorafor, former Lagos State deputy governor, Sinatu Ojikutu and Director of Palmnto Nigeria Limited, Barrister Jide Adefesowa

As the gateway to neighbouring countries on the West coast, Badagry is set to become a major business hub with the flag-off of the Oba Akran shopping mall, writes Sunday Ehigiator

PALMNTO Nigeria Limited is a dynamic multi-discipline company involved in building/civic engineering work, electrical and mechanical engineering, and telecommunications engineering and uses cutting-edge technology to deliver projects all over Nigeria.

Situated along the Lagos-Badagry-Seme Boarder Expressway in Badagry, the double phased project is to be developed by PALMNTO Nigeria Limited with the maximum support from Badagry Local Government in conjunction with Lagos State Government.

The first phase of the project which is estimated to cost N18 billion, is to harbour lockup shops, plazas/offices, warehouses, banking halls, police post, clinic, fire station and so on. While the second phase is estimated to cost N45 billion, which is to be expended in the construction of a five-star hotel, schools and housing estates which would be affordable in stratifications to all.

The ground breaking occasion which was hosted by HRM, De Wheno Aholu Menu-Toyi 1, the Akran of Badgry Kingdom (Gbabi), had in attendance dignitaries and investors from within and outside Nigeria amongst whom were; The governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode ably represented by Alhaji Musiliu Folami, Hon. Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Lagos, former deputy governor of Lagos State, Alhaja Sinatu Aderoju Ojikutu, HRM, Oba Josiah Aina, Oloto of Oto-Awori Kingdom, HRM, Oba Oyekan Adekanmi Ajose, Alapa of Apa Kingdom, Chief V.O. Odinaka, Vice President, Amalgamated Traders Association Lagos (ATAL), as represented by Mazi Andrew Okpara, Chairman of ATAL, Executive Secretary, Association of Bureau de Change Operations in Nigeria, ABCON, Mr. Uduna Cletus, First Bank, NPF Microfinance Bank and many more.

Delivering a goodwill message on behalf of ATAL, Andrew Okpara said “The president, the executives and members of ATAL are happy to be associated with PALMNTO Nigeria Ltd on their epoch foundation laying ceremony of Oba Akran International Shopping Mall by His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode. We are Igbo people, we are in business that is why our brother PALMNTO who is a good observer came down to Lagos and arranged with us to come and champion this market. So I am assuring the people of Badagry, that all the people in Lagos will come and champion this international market. And we assure you that this market will pick-up soonest. So what we need is your cooperation, we are all brothers and sisters, we are together, we are doing everything together. When we come here and we are treated well, we will be happy to stay, and everyone will be happy with our stay, small time we will start building houses and further developing Badagry. We are glad that you invited us to come and develop this market and we wish to assure you of our partnership in this laudable project as we hope for favourable working conditions. Thank you and God bless you.”

In another goodwill message, Uduna Cletus representing ABCON, congratulated and felicitated with PALMNTO Nigeria Ltd, amidst pledging strong supports and partnership needed for the completion of the project.

In her goodwill address, former deputy governor of Lagos State, Alhaja Sinatu Aderoju Ojikutu said, “this foundation that we are laying today, I am very happy about it. Because, this was one of the things we had in mind for Badagry during my own time. Badagry has a sea port. It has the lagoon here. So, the development in Badagry should be like the developments in Lagos Island, development in Epe, and I am happy now that this international mall is coming to Badagry because, it is going to open a lot of businesses which will develop Badagry. And it is our prayers that the people of Badagry would receive it with grace. I have a factory there, at Arabagbon that I had to close down because the environment was not good. No power, and NEPA was not there. I pray that, this will not be a stunt project by the grace of God. As we have come here today to lay the foundation today in the administration of our son Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, I am praying that he would be around for a second term and be the one to open this international mall by the grace of God. Also, our father Akran and all of us will be there too by God’s grace.”

Rendering his address, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of PALMTO Nigeria Ltd, Elder Kalu O. Okorafor said, “The facilities that would be provided here in the mall are world class standard. The environment is serene, aesthetically pleasing with laid out landscape. The intention is to provide a work place that is environmentally friendly, in all its ramifications. We are now at a point of executing a project that would be a reference point by professionals in the construction industry/estate managers when completed.” He went further by using the “medium to assure members of Amalgamated Traders Association, Lagos (ATAL), Association of Bureaux de Change Operators in Nigeria (ABCON), National Union of Banks, Insurance and other Financial Institution Employers (NUBIFIE) that “we will at all times uphold the confidence they repose in us as well as the project. We thank you all,” adding that “the scope of Oba Akran International Shopping Mall is big. We assure you, that profit-wise, we are for a win-win situation for the stakeholders, Once again, we say thank you for believing in us and sharing in this broad vision.”

Speaking to journalists after the occasion, the Director, PALMNTO NIG’ LTD, Barr. Babajide Adefeso said, “It was the intervention of God that brought me here today. I got this vision through my Pastor, Pastor Amos Ade of Christian Revival Centre. He said I should tap into the fertile land of Badagry, that I should put my investment into Badagry Kingdom. He said I would be part of the people that would develop Badagry. It was through that, I met Engineer Okorafor in conjunction with Badagry Local Government Council on prevailing on this project. I met with the Oba, and he gave us his consent to be able to put up this multi-billion naira project. So, we have a land of 93 acres, of which we plan to build hotels, shopping mall, storage facilities, and in conjunction with the council, we are close to the port, where we will have ferries that will take goods and services from Badagry to any part of the country. We will like people to come and join us and likewise invest in this great venture. You can invest in any aspect you deemed suitable.”

In fact, the idea of remodeling the entity, and boosting one of the untapped resources of Lagos, into a dreamland, is one that had endured over the years, as informed by De Wheno Aholu Menu-Toyi 1, the Akran of Badagry Kingdom. According to the monarch, while addressing some investors, government officials, politicians, bank executives, traders and musical groups, who formed a sort of kaleidoscope at the fore-ground of the massive land during the ground-breaking ceremony, said that the project was one of the ways he intended to etch his name permanently across the pages of history.

In his words, “The desire to have a legacy which will serve to immortalise my name and of course immortalise the historic royal institution of Badagry, has, for a very long time, been nursed by me. At a point in time, I remembered the 93-acre family land on which we are today, and thus, came to the conclusion that such a parcel of land could be used to provide the legacy of my dream. Thereafter, an effective machinery was set up to produce technical, legal and financial partners and in the process, PALMNTO Nigeria Limited emerged. Having achieved that, a working committee was set up to work with the technical partners and charged them with the responsibility of meeting statutory/legal, environmental, governmental and traditional requirements. To my satisfaction, the parties collectively and assiduously worked as expected and produced the required results.”

PALMNTO, the consortium handling the project, was no less enthusiastic and emphatic about the driving force of the project. Echoing the sentiments of the Badagry monarch, each of the firm’s officials were unequivocal about the success of the venture, given the potential of the environment and the fact that its resources were greatly untapped and presented huge business opportunities.

Also, speaking to journalists after the event, the CEO, PALMNTO Nigeria Ltd, Elder Okorafor said, “the first idea about this project is human development. Secondly, Badagry is an open area, there are lots of potential in this Badagry zone that have remained untapped. That is why our company on realising the potential, and looking at the future, we are trying to consolidate and bring these things into fusion. This idea is to open up Badagry and the sub West African region. Sometimes, people come from all over sub West African countries, especially countries under ECOWAS; go all the way to Aba, Onitsha, and Lagos Island to make their purchases.

We are developing this project that would enable better options. The duration of the first phase of this project is 24 months, and could have an addition of six months depending on logistics. The structural design of this place is not going to be like other markets that you are used to, it’s going to be a Dubai-like kind of market with classic packaging. Even if you selling yam here, the quality of the yam would be great and the packaging of the yam would be very hygienic.”

At exactly 2p.m., Hon. Setonji David, representing Badagry constituency at the Lagos State House of Assembly plastered two blocks together to form part of the construction foundation and afterwards in the company standing in the middle of many other dignitaries, he unveiled the foundation stone. These actions symbolised practical steps towards the realisation of the vision, which when attained, would surely be a major component of the much-advertised Lagos Dream.