The Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar at the weekend, led a team of the management staff for an on the spot assessment of the current state of facilities in State House, Dodan Barracks, the former seat of government, in Ikoyi, Lagos.
The facility was the official seat of government business under former military heads of state, including Generals Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Muhammed, Olusegun Obasanjo and Muhammadu Buhari, as well as the Supreme Military Headquarters during the Nigerian Civil War.
After the seat of government moved to Abuja in 1992, State House has maintained a Liaison Office in Lagos, which caters for presidential liaison in the South West geopolitical zone and also provides protocol and logistical support services for top government functionaries visiting or passing through Lagos.
Speaking at a town hall meeting with the staff in Lagos, the Permanent Secretary said the Presidential facilities in the State House, Dodan Barracks at Ribadu Road, Ikoyi will receive the necessary attention to make them ‘‘active, functional and effective’’, in delivering services.
Noting the strategic importance of the former abode of Nigeria’s heads of state, the Permanent Secretary recounted that in January this year, President Buhari, while returning from a State visit to Ogun State, passed through Dodan Barracks, where he boarded a helicopter to Murtala Muhammed Airport, in Ikeja, Lagos.
He also added that the facility in Lagos also caters for the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, when he visits or passes through Lagos.
‘‘We want to keep this place active, alive and functional as well as make the working environment a bit more conducive for the staff. We cannot fix the entire structure in one day, but we can begin somewhere and see it to completion,’’ he said.
At the meeting attended by all the Heads of Departments and Units in the State House, Umar announced that the Library/Archives at the seat of government in Abuja would be fully automated, to allow staff and interested educational institutions, have access to important national documents on Nigeria’s history.
Underscoring the need for record keeping and preservation of government documents, the Permanent Secretary said the collection and preservation of archival materials for posterity in the seat of government would receive more attention.
He also encouraged State House staff to make use of the Library for research, reference and to revive and entrench the dying reading culture that was needed for national development.
‘‘We are looking at scenarios where the Library will be open at weekends to encourage reading and learning among the staff and also accord educational institutions at the basic secondary level to undertake guided tours of the State House Library and Archives and see how the nation has evolved over the years, through our collection of historical records and artefacts’’ he said.
The Permanent Secretary also lauded the symbiotic relationship among the different government agencies working in the Lagos Liaison Office, especially the security, noting that a unity of purpose remains integral to improved service delivery.
The Liaison Officer Lagos, Mr Akinyemi Famakin, thanked the Permanent Secretary for bringing the top management staff to Lagos for the top level meeting and facility inspection.
On establishment matters, the Liaison Officer commended the management for addressing some of the training needs of the staff in Lagos, especially drivers, who are frontline service providers in the Liaison office.