Jonathan, Clinton Reiterate Support For Eko Atlantic City Project, Join Fashola To Dedicate 5 Million Square Metres Of Reclaimed Land
• Project a symbol of man's undying spirit in Lagos to conquer nature, says Governor
Feb 21, 2013 - The ambitious coastline city project in Lagos, the Eko Atlantic City, Thursday attained a major milestone when President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and former United States President, Mr. Bill Clinton reiterated their support for the Project in Lagos as they joined the State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) to dedicate five million square metres of recovered land for the project.
The dedication ceremony of the recovered land which was witnessed by very eminent citizens including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, among other prominent Nigerians and international figures, marks a major step towards the full implementation of the project.
Speaking at the occasion held at the site of the project, President Jonathan encouraged other state governments and other entrepreneurs to emulate the "noble initiative" of the Lagos State Government and supporters of the new city adding, "New cities are good, new cities are smart, new cities help to improve our thinking and lives. It encourages urban renewal and where necessary, new cities must be built to complement old ones",
Former United States President Bill Clinton in his address said the Eko Atlantic City would help diversify the economy of Nigeria and brand Lagos all over the world with enormous opportunities adding, "Within five years, people from all parts of the world would come as tourists to see the Great Wall that has been built against possible surges. It will create opportunities, investments, employment and advanced aspirations by branding the city, the State and the nation".
"You have no idea how much hope this project can bring to the world. Billions of people are already living within one or two miles of an ocean all around the world. It is a place of commerce, a place of enjoying the sun, a place of hope and a place of bright horizons", the former President said.
Speaking earlier at the colourful ceremony, Governor Fashola said although it was yet to be finished, the project has already become a success story especially with the dedication of the recovered land adding that because it is fueled by the support of men of goodwill, the project continues to overcome the various challenges that have confronted it since inception.
"A new city will now emerge from what was once a devastated area as a result of nature's onslaught and that devastation is now history. Our ultimate triumph now beckons; the human spirit will yet again prevail because of a few good men who have demonstrated tremendous goodwill", the Governor said
Describing the project as the symbol of man's untiring spirit in Lagos to conquer nature, Governor Fashola declared, "Whilst many may see just a civil works and engineering project and the signs of an emerging city, the Eko Atlantic City, I see much more than that. The ability of the human civilization to survive and prosper has been a story of constant battle with nature".
"Many times over, the human spirit has triumphed. The symbols of that triumph are many and far flung across our planet. The air plane is one of them; we now fly across continents against the odds of nature. The Panama Canal is yet another and the Pyramids of Egypt remain an intriguing model of global edifice that stands as a proud testimony of the unfathomable depths of the human capacity for survival against nature's odds".
Recalling the genesis of the events that led to the conception of the project, Governor Fashola said the cost of the construction of the Apapa Ports about a century ago, in spite of all its benefits to Lagos as a seaport, was the gradual erosion of its coastlines for many years which resulted in the devastation of infrastructure and private properties in Victoria Island and constituted a threat to the whole Island.
According to the Governor, the Apapa Port example represents some of the instances when nature fought back after the initial successes of man to subjugate it with devastating consequences to humanity.
"The construction of Apapa Port about a century ago was one of such instances when after an initial human triumph, nature fights back to reverse the gains with devastating consequences to humanity", the Governor said adding, however, "But as often the story, wherever men of goodwill, courage and vision exist, a surrender to nature is never an option".
According to the Governor, "So it was here that while the erosion persisted and began to claim our shoreline, redefine our geographical boundaries, consume our existing roads and evict citizens with properties close to the shoreline, some men never gave up".
Such men , he said, include, "Men like my immediate predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was convinced that nature could be made to beat a retreat, men like Ronald Chagoury and his brother Gilbert who believe in the possibilities of this great Island City State and ready to risk everything to protect the place they call home".
Others, according to him, are "men like the late President Umar Yar'Adua who rose above political considerations on the eve of the flag off of this project when he sent Tanimu Yakubu, his Economic Adviser, to declare his support for this project because he believed that Politics is a noble Cause and must be used for the overall public good, men like President Clinton who lent strong voice of support for this project in New York in 2009 at the Annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative and, of course, President Jonathan who was Vice-President to President Yar'Adua then".
Governor Fashola expressed joy that the project, though still on-going, has already recorded some significant achievements pointing out that the road that was hitherto lost to the sea has now become motorable and the buildings earlier deserted by their occupants because of the threat of Ocean surge are now occupied while property values have been restored and multiplied "as more buildings are springing up in anticipation of opportunities that lie ahead".
"Thousands of people are earning their living on this historic shoreline. The properties that used to flood as a result of rising waves are now enjoying a significant and most welcome respite because of the protection now afforded by the Great Wall of Lagos which is not yet completed", the Governor said adding, "Nature has lost yet again. The human spirit has prevailed and yet the battle is only half way fought because we will not lie at ease until the work is finished".
Thanking specially the former President of the United States and President Goodluck Jonathan for their continued support for the project, Governor Fashola said the occasion was meant "to erect a milestone on the recovery from the sea of approximately five million square metres of land that it stole forcefully from Lagos", adding that with such human spirit, Lagos would continue to prosper.
While recounting the experience of the people of New Orleans when they encountered Hurricane Katherina which was totally buried in water because the people had not prepared adequately, former President Clinton said such people would probably come to Nigeria to live.
"The commitment that you have all shown towards this project will not only help to rebrand Nigeria as a country of the 21st Century by affording people opportunity to come in, it will also help understand that there are affordable and profitable ways to live in harmony with a new national reality and make it work for ordinary people", he explained.
Speaking earlier the State Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Prince Adesegun Oniru, described the project as another milestone in the quest to change Lagos and commended former Governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu "for conceiving the idea of the project and passing it on to Governor Fashola who has seen the project through to execution".
In his remarks, the Chairman of Chargoury Limited, Mr. Ronald Chagoury, stated that the new Eko Atlantic City is sitting on a stretch of land that has been reclaimed as an asset of prosperity adding that the City is protected by a massive wall that is well fortified and can withstand any storm for the next 1000 years.
The President later unveiled the plaque to commemorate the dedication of the five million square metres of land at the Eko Atlantic City while being assisted by other dignitaries including former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Prominent among those who witnessed the epoch making ceremony were the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, the Deputy Governor, Hon (Mrs) Adejoke Orelope–Adefulire, members of the Federal and State Executive Councils, traditional rulers, several dignitaries and captains of industry.