Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State said his administration had embarked on projects to regenerate, redesign and reactivate special cultural and tourist infrastructure in the state.
Ambode who spoke on Tuesday at the ground-breaking for the redevelopment of the J.K Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture in Onikan, noted that on completion, the projects would be converted to centres for recreation, tourism and entertainment.
“At the inception of this administration, we made a promise to Lagosians that we will execute only programmes and projects that will be to the benefits of all our people.
“We identified some areas for special attention in our bid to accelerate growth and development. One of the areas we have identified which holds a lot of potential and opportunities for high growth and employment, is tourism.
“It is an area in which a little investment in infrastructure will generate a lot of economic activities, leading to job creation. One of such edifices is the J.K Randle Centre which was originally built in 1928,’’ Ambode said.
Ambode lamented that in recent times, the centre became redundant, serving uses other than those for which it was built before falling to neglect and disrepair.
“As a result, the Lagos State Government decided to redevelop the centre and we are here for the ground-breaking of the new J. K. Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History.
“In the past, the centre provided recreational services to the Lagos populace but the new J. K. Randle Centre will do a lot more,” Ambode said.
He said that the new J. K. Randle Centre would consist of an exhibition centre, a library, a multi-purpose hall, learning spaces, restaurant and lounges.
He said that the centre would retain its swimming pool and sports facilities and also have a pavilion for stage performances.
The governor said that the centre was part of a grand plan to turn the Onikan axis into a critical tourist hub, not just in the country but on the continent.
The governor commended the present Board of Trustees of the centre for their cooperation toward the redevelopment initiative.
Ambode said that in addition to the J.K Randle redevelopment, the government had embarked on the development of Eko Park which would comprise of the Lagos Heritage Centre for Leadership at the former Presidential Lodge, Marina.
He said the park would also comprise of the Lagos Historical Centre at the former State House, Marina, a Lagos Museum and the erection of a 55-foot Eyo statue at the Lagos History Centre.
Ambode said that other developments coming to the Onikan–Marina axis include, the upgrading of the Onikan Stadium to a standard sports arena which was already ongoing, the regeneration of CMS Marina and the multi-layer car parks around Onikan.
“All these will serve as a catalyst for the rest of the regeneration of Lagos Island, restoring it to its former glory, while reinforcing the position of Lagos State as one of the world’s most vibrant, cosmopolitan and exciting places to experience,” he said.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure, Mr Ade Akinsanya said that the projects would improve tourism and cultural activities on Lagos Island, alongside the National Museum.
The original J. K. Randle Centre was conceptualised and built by friends of late J. K. Randle, who passed away at a relatively young age.
J.K. Randle was a sports enthusiast, the Vice President of the Nigerian Olympic/British Empire/Commonwealth Games Association; a founding member and later chairman of the Island Club.
The property was managed by the J. K. Randle Memorial Fund, set up in his memory by the original trustees, who had since passed on.