Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has called on the Federal Government to open up Badagry axis of the state to boost commerce and tourism potentials of the area.
Sanwo-Olu said there’s need for Nigeria to look beyond oil to diversify its economy.
The governor, who said this when the Chairman, Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, led members of the organising committee for the annual ‘Door of Return’ to pay him a courtesy visit at the State House in Marina, added that Badagry has become a brand which has been recognised globally as a tourism destination in Nigeria.
“The potentials in the tourism sector are enormous and that is why we have included it as part of our agenda to take Lagos to an enviable height. That is why we have continued to tell the Federal Government that we need to open that corridor for commerce, business and tourism,” Sanwo-olu said.
While justifying that Badagry has become a brand, the governor argued that “no matter how people take tourism to another location, if you have a historic presence somewhere, no matter how they take it away, they will still come back to the historic base.”
He assured that the government would provide both operational and logistic supports for the event scheduled for October to assist Africans in Diaspora reunite with their ancestral home, adding that the traffic and other infrastructure aimed to be completed in Badagry would be fast-tracked.
“I can assure you that I will get my people to work immediately because the time is less than two months to the event. I can assure you that all the logistics required would be provided,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu, however, said his administration would work with Diaspora Commission and residents of the community “to further boost the potentials that could be gotten from the community.”
Earlier, Dabiri-Erewa hinted that this year’s event was designed to mark the 400th year since the slave trade started and when it eventually ended in Africa.
She noted that aside from boosting the tourism of the state, the event would allow participants to reunite with their ancestral root, saying at the inception of the programme three years ago, we had about 25 returnees from Brazil, Jamaica and others.
The chairman said: “The guests have the opportunity to walk through the door of no return where their ancestors were shipped out of the continent. They will also have the opportunity to have experience of how their forefathers were taken out of the continent then. They will have the opportunity to see different artefacts.
“From the point of no return which was the practice over 400 years ago, we open the door of return to the continent of their ancestors. And Lagos serves as the door that has helped them to return to their ancestral root.
“There is a spiritual and emotional connection attached to the exercise; many that have passed through the process often come with tears”.