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FG begins Renovation of Dodan Barracks, Nigerian first Seat Of power

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FG begins Renovation of Dodan Barracks, Nigerian first Seat Of power

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The Federal Government has started renovating the former seat of power, Dodan Barracks, with plans to complete works by May 29, 2024, this newspaper gathered.

Senior government officials involved in the project exclusively told our correspondent that the work became necessary as perennial floods threatened the facility and critical components were deteriorating fast.

This comes months after President Bola Tinubu proposed N4bn to renovate the official residence in Lagos and another N3bn to refurbish the Vice President’s official quarters in the state.

On October 30, 2023, the Federal Executive Council approved the amount as part of a N2.18tn supplementary budget for the 2023 fiscal year.

The budget covers additional spending in defense, works, and welfare packages such as wage awards and conditional cash transfers, as agreed with the Organised Labour earlier that month.

Tinubu assented to the bill on New Year’s Day of 2024, to run until March 31. However, on March 19, the Senate extended its implementation period to June 30.

A senior government official who spoke anonymously confirmed to our correspondent, “Yes, renovation works have begun as approved by the budget. The rehabilitation was necessary because of the sorry state of the structure.

“Last rainy season, a major part of the building was almost taken away by floods. So we have to protect it from erosion and floods.

“We will also repair broken items, renew the furniture and make it a functioning State House Liaison Office.”

Dodan Barracks, located in Ikoyi, Lagos, was Nigeria’s former military headquarters and the seat of power from 1966 until 1991, when the Babangida administration made Abuja Nigeria’s administrative capital.

Though its establishment dates back to the British colonial era when it served as a military installation, it rose to prominence in Nigeria’s post-independence history, housing the office and residence of military heads of state, including Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Muhammed, Olusegun Obasanjo and Muhammadu Buhari, as well as the Supreme Military headquarters during the Nigerian civil war (1967-1970).

Dodan Barracks also accommodated the first state visit of a United States President, Jimmy Carter, to sub-Saharan Africa from March 31 – April 3, 1978.

After General Ibrahim Babangida moved the seat of government to Abuja in December 1991, it became a Liaison Office in Lagos, catering to presidential liaison in the South-West geopolitical zone.

It also provides protocol and logistical support services for top government functionaries visiting or passing through Lagos.

In April 2022, then-Permanent Secretary of the State House, Tijjani Umar, revealed plans to give the former seat of power a facelift by rehabilitating it.

After an on-the-spot assessment of the current state of its facilities, Umar said, “The collection and preservation of archival materials for posterity in the seat of government would receive more attention.”

He noted that the rehabilitation would entail upgrading its library facilities and historical artefacts and opening the edifice to researchers and academics.

“We want to keep this place active, alive and functional, as well as make the working environment more conducive for the staff.

“We cannot fix the entire structure in one day, but we can begin somewhere and see it to completion,” Umar had said.

Another official who did not want to be named said rehabilitation works will be completed by May 29, 2024. And may be used by President Bola Tinubu subsequently.