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In the presence of clapping monuments, Sanwo-Olu renews bond with Badagry

Akeem Lasisi

No matter how many times you have visited Badagry, there is always something to love afresh whenever you return to the Lagos’ haven of history, culture and tourism. From its whispering and whistling palms to its engagingly iconic sites, Badagry is like a unique onion wrapped in multiple layers of juicy lobes.

What about its playful white sands, gentle beaches and its infinite coconut palms? So also are the rich cultural songs as well as the intriguing sound of Egun dialect itself – all coupled with the friendliness of the people who are products of a highly dramatic past, to say the least. Each time you visit, therefore, you are assured of a green carpet of hospitality.

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu had a taste of these days ago when he was in Badagry on an official visit. He is supposed to be the number one landlord in the town that stands like a thumb apart from the fingers of other Lagos communities, as if as if it stands distantly wants to sneak into the neighbouring Benin Republic. The governor is the number one citizen in every nook and cranny of his aquatic jurisdiction. Yet, he landed in the warm embrace of cultured souls who treated him like a royal guest, bathing him with songs, dances and cheers. He too could not resist repaying the hosts in their dancing coin, with the encounter turning into a mini carnival.

And such reception cannot be said to be ‘audio’ or fake based on the love Badagry had showed him in the 2023 election. The All Progressives Congress candidate, who was seeking re-election, secured 41,482 votes to emerge winner, while his ‘rivals’, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party and the Peoples Democratic Party’s Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran (also known as Jandor) respectively got 4,863 and 5,472 votes. The trip thus became a reunion of loyal friends while also strengthening their bond.

Feeling very much at home, the governor, who was accompanied by Chairman/CEO of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa; members of the Lagos State Executive Council and Lagos State House of Assembly, as well as officials of the Lagos State Diaspora Commission, visited the Slave Market Museum International Vlekete Badagry, which was recently restored and upgraded by the administration.

Interestingly, when Sanwo-Olu was in Badagry about a year ago, he had highlighted some of the projects his government was undertaking in the area. He had said: “In the last three and half years, we have delivered many projects in the Badagry Division, including a Mother and Child Hospital and inner road projects in Badagry. The General Hospital we are currently building in Ojo has progressed and we will be completing the project soon. Before we came in, there was only one university in this area. Now, residents can boast two well-funded universities, which resulted from the upgrade the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education to a full-fledged University of Education.

“We have also delivered housing schemes in Badagry, just as we have accorded priority to the completion of Lagos-Badagry Expressway. This project is at the heart of our efforts to lessen the pain of transiting along the corridor. All bridges required for seamless traffic flow are being built on the corridor. We will be flagging off the second phase of the Blue Line from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko, which will be on a dedicated alignment already marked along the highway. We are set to energise a new economic hub in Badagry, with the securing of an approval for the construction of a new Deep Seaport”.

Last week, too, the governor did not lack confidence as he addressed the people: “My promise is that no part of Lagos will be left underdeveloped, and Badagry is experiencing the fulfilment of this promise. Today’s tour of the historic city of Badagry was a journey through our rich heritage. We are committed to showcasing Badagry not just as a key part of Lagos’ history but as a beacon of tourism in Nigeria.

“I visited our restored sites like the Slave Market Museum, International Vlekete and the Badagry Heritage Museum. These sites tell powerful stories of our past, and we’re dedicated to preserving and enhancing them for future generations. From the Point of No Return to the first-storey Building in Nigeria, Badagry is a treasure trove of history.

“The visit is really part of our tourism ecosystem, and I have had to come and see things for myself to evaluate what we have done, additional things that we need to do, and how we intentionally make Badagry, an all of the tourism potential that it has, a real destination.

“For us, it is to complete the ongoing projects that we have seen, to restock some of the heritage sites that we have seen, to generally preserve what we have, and to speak a compelling story about what Badagry holds for the tourism potential of our country”.

He also visited the Badagry Heritage Museum, the seat of the fallen Agia Tree where Christianity was first preached in 1842, the first-storey building in Nigeria, the first Christian burial site, the Hospital Road construction project, and the Old Governor’s Lodge, a purpose-built 70-room and hotel complex. This is as the governor took a boat ride to the Point-of-No-Return, where slaves were taken to different parts of the world during the slave trade era.

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