By KIKELOMO SHONIBARE, Lagos
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Monday explained the rationale behind his decision to transform the National Museum in Onikan, Lagos to a world-class edifice, saying the development would go a long way in creating jobs for the lower strata of the society and in turn boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the state.
The Governor, who spoke during a joint inspection of the museum alongside the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the decision of his administration was born out of the drive to deploy culture, tourism, hospitality, entertainment, arts and sports to tackle the problem of unemployment, especially among the youths, artisans and young professionals, among others.
It would be recalled that Governor Ambode had pledged to transform the National Museum into a modern-day cultural edifice which would be of international standard during a courtesy visit paid on him at the Lagos House, Alausa by Mohammed about two weeks ago.
Governor Ambode, who spoke after he was conducted round the premises of the museum by the Director General of National Museum, Mallam Abdallah Yusuf, said his vision was to combine everything at the disposal of government to address unemployment and also develop the talents of the people.
He said: “We are here to inspect the state of things and what we have found out is that we actually have enough space that can accommodate a new museum and the partnership is something I think will benefit the whole country.
“We have behind us here a project that is going on and it is a multi-layer car park which will go a long way to compliment what we plan to do here. So, this is a new beginning. With this kind of partnership, we hope to achieve a lot for the state and the nation,” Governor Ambode said.
While fielding questions from journalists, the Governor assured that the project would be completed before the celebration of 50 years anniversary of the state next year, and that the whole idea was also aimed at bringing consciousness of the people to the historical facts about the state and the nation.
He added: “Again, we are not just doing this because we plan to complete the new museum for the Lagos@50 celebration, but this is more or less a legacy for the state government.
“We actually have a program called THEAS which stands for Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Arts and Sports for excellence but the truth of the matter is that this is not only about revenue generation; it is about job creation. My emphasis is about creating jobs for the lower strata and that is where you are going to get all our athletes, the younger ones, our drivers, our artisans and so on to be busy and keep them moving by combining everything that we have from sports, from tourism and so on and before you know it, the GDP of Lagos grows,” the Governor said.
On his part, Mohammed assured that he would spare nothing in ensuring that the project is a reality, and that serious efforts would be put in place to ensure the completion within the stipulated time frame.
He commended Governor Ambode for walking the talk barely two weeks after promising to transform the museum to world-class, saying the project was the biggest collaboration so far between the state and federal government on tourism and culture.
The Minister added: “For the Governor to come here today is eloquent confirmation that he is ready to walk his talk. What we are aiming up for here is another hub for culture, another hub for arts and another hub for entertainment and if you look at the location of this National Museum, this is where the history of Nigeria started.
“Around us here are historical monuments and what we are trying to do about it is to bring all these historical monuments like the lsland Club, like the Yoruba Tennis Club and the old Brazilian culture together in a lovely form and I must again thank the Governor of Lagos State for not just his generosity but for the vision.
“He has looked at the big picture not just the small picture. He is not looking at four years or eight years but he is looking at what legacy can we bequeath for Nigeria and Nigerians and I can assure you that this is one project that will be devoid of bureaucracy. We already have a timeline within which to achieve this and the fact that the Governor is here just in two weeks after his promise to transform the National Museum speaks volume about his intention,” Mohammed said.