New Telegraph

Old Federal Secretariat Complex, Ikoyi rots away in majesty

It was the cynosure of all eyes in its hey days. It determined the fate of many Nigerians, while millions depended on the people who worked in the edifice for their daily bread. But now, the Federal Secretariat Ikoyi is a shadow of itself- derelict, dilapidated, abandoned, denied proper take over and rotting away in Ikoyi, Lagos.

 

The abandoned complex has since been overtaken by tall trees, medium and short grasses, flocks of chicken and Turkey with a few security men who moved in with their relatives. Some were sleeping and moving about inside the large secretariat building, sitting on large expanse of land on Ikoyi, Lagos.

 

Outside the building, opposite MacGregor road, not too far from office of the Voice of Nigeria is seated the noticeable vast old Federal Secretariat complex with short fence painted in green and white.

 

Although, the building has been stripped off its beauty and grandeur, washed, faded and enmeshed in dark and greenish shrubs, the tall elegantly looking complex still stand unique among the buildings in that environment.

 

Even though, the old building still retain a faintly part of its former beauty of the hay days, it has been cannibalized with walls of the building shrouded in termite mound.

 

The Window Air Conditioners (AC) spaces have become hollow in the entire buildings because the Air Conditioners have all been removed. The roofs have also been removed; the whole buildings within the complex are dilapidated with deep cracks visible on some part of the walls, giving unhindered accesses to rodents crawling in and out all over the building.

 

The old secretariat complex aptly depict the proverbial saying that, “at the absence of the cat, the mouse becomes master of the house.” The buildings have become headquarter for termites and all sorts of roaches moving and crawling majestically and elegantly within the vast compound, daring anyone or insecticide to harass them.

 

As a matter of fact, it would not be out of place to describe the building as ‘ANCIENT’ compared to other modern and contemporary buildings surrounding the abandoned buildings both back and front of the complex. The back of the structure looked a bit busy; some few abandoned vehicles were seen parked inside with a few heaped bags of cement and bricks packed on one side of the compound.

 

All the gates leading into the buildings were under lock and key. Outside of one of the locked gates is a petty provision shop otherwise called, “Mallam shop.”

Also sharing a fence with the complex is a mechanic workshop. Inside the mechanic workshop, Sunday Telegraph saw young men moving about, oblivious of the imposing structure near him. One of them said that is where he sleeps and works while the other one who was there to change his cloth said the old secretariat serves as different purpose to different people at different times.

 

According to him, day time, the security men would be seen strolling within the compound and their family members sell and buy. But that at night and mid night, the compound is a beehive of different activities. It also serves as shelter for some people working on the Island, whose houses are on the mainland.

 

“At night, the gate opens to those working here, for those whose houses are afar.

Some come with their cars, others just come to sleep here from Monday to Friday and go back to their houses and resume on Monday. That is the routine here,” he said. Adewale Orija, a resident landlord (but wouldn’t want his address in print) said he understood that the property had in dormant for past 25 years wasting away.

 

“In fact, it is almost 30 years now if I got my calculation right that I have been here and doing business for about 28 years and that is about the time that this property has been laid dormant. You can imagine the amount of values and money in billions of naira that have been lost to the litigation between Resort International Limited and the Lagos State government.

 

If they had resolved the matter amicably, hundreds of families would have been housed in that property by now.” A resident, who preferred not to be named. told Sunday Telegraph that they have sent several ‘SOS’ messages to governments and stakeholders, concerning the abandoned edifice. According to the resident, they noticed strange movements in and out of the building, even at odd hours during the day.

 

And these movements, the resident suspected to be shady and dangerous. “We beg our governments and stakeholders not to waste our lives as they are wasting the edifice. Putting security officials there is not enough way to secure the place. We observed that once it’s a little dark, the policemen are no longer seen by the gate, thereby exposing the place to all forms of activities.

 

In fact, some people come to sleep here. Government should rather put the building to meaningful use. That way, criminals will not hibernate there, shady deals will not go on in there. The place as a matter of fact will become whole and healthy to itself and the environ.”

 

Truly, when Sunday Telegraph visited the place, there was no presence of policemen around; instead, a few Hausa security men were sleeping on a mat in the middle of the compound while some children were seen washing clothes, some fetching water and some flock of Duck and Turkey were rolling about inside the compound. In a chat with one of the security men, he told Sunday Telegraph there were police officers around but they had gone to eat at that moment-3.37pm on a Sunday, precisely May 16, 2021.

 

He explained further that the policemen do come around in the evening but may not be in uniform some times. He also denied the speculations of criminal activities going on there.

 

He said: “Since, I have been guarding this place for some time now, there have been no issue of robbery and whereby there is case of theft, it means it was done in my absence and other security officials here.”

 

He explained that he understood that the reason that place is lying fallow is because the buyer, Dr. Wale Babalakin, Federal Government and Lagos State government have not come to term on what they intend to do with the place and pending the time of resolving, he remains one of the local security men there.

 

The old federal secretariat had been lying fallow for more than 20 years due to the court case between the federal and Lagos State governments.

 

It was a property formerly owned by Federal Government in Lagos State. Under former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration between 2003 and 2006, Dr. Babalakin, a Nigerian businessman and chairman of The Bi-Courtney Group of companies, Resort International Limited, bought it with the intention of renovating it into luxury residential apartments- 480 flats consisting four, three and two-bedroom flats.

 

However, the Lagos State government stopped the progress of the project with the excuse that it was not in compliance with the Ikoyi/ Victoria Island Model City Plan. It went ahead to demand that the firm must obtain a fresh Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) from it, despite documents already issued by the Federal Government on the property.

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