Ambode’s Loss, Lagos’ Gain…As Tony Elumelu Commissions Afriland Towers

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Ambode’s Loss, Lagos’ Gain…As Tony Elumelu Commissions Afriland Towers

Ambode’s Loss, Lagos’ Gain…As Tony Elumelu Commissions Afriland Towers
March 04
16:48 2020

The worst flaw a person can have is that of self-deception. That was the bane of former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode who, perhaps, thought that his stint as governor of Nigeria’s most important state was for a lifetime and, thus, carried on like an imperious emperor. He spent just four years and was denied a second four year-term leading to his political oblivion. Some of his deeds are, however, a study in political pettiness.

Three months into his stewardship, Ambode revoked the concession granted by the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation, LSDPC, to Afriland Properties for the redevelopment of the Falomo Shopping Centre, Ikoyi. He said then that the decision was taken based on a discovery that the concession was grossly detrimental to the interests of the people of the state.

According to him, only N50million was paid by the concessionaire, Afriland Properties, for a 50-year lease of the property belonging to the government. Ambode also said that the state government, as the custodian of the interests of Lagosians, was committed to the restructuring of the LSDPC to ensure it began to provide positive capital returns for the ultimate benefit of the people.

Afriland, through its Managing Director, Uzo Oshogwe, rejected the claim that the concession terms were detrimental to Lagos State and its residents and that it only made a payment of N50 million for a 50-year lease of the government-owned facility.                                                                                                 

While claiming that the contract was negotiated transparently and in accordance with best practices, the firm stated, “Afriland Properties Plc and the Lagos State Development Property Corporation, LSDPC, acting on behalf of the Lagos State government, established a Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV, which is jointly owned by the parties for the specific purpose of the Falomo project. Under the terms of the agreement, the SPV- Falomo Shopping Centre Development Company Ltd – was granted a concession to, among other things, develop, build, operate and maintain the project on a Build, Operate and Transfer, BOT basis.”

The firm further posited, “Afriland paid N50million to LSDPC as an expression of interest in the redevelopment project. The LSPDC will receive a 35 per cent interest in the SPV for its land contribution and through this significant Equity Holding, will continue to receive significant ongoing value. Afriland is obliged to fund the entirety of the development costs which is projected to exceed N30 billion without recourse to the taxpayer.”

The firm had planned to build a new facility that would comprise a state-of-the-art shopping mall, office complex and generous parking facilities while adhering strictly to the terms of its agreement with the LSDPC, as outlined in the MoU and Joint Venture Agreement that were signed and executed by the parties.

Ambode maintained his stance. The project never took off and losses were taken with equanimity. But like the axiom, ‘time ripens all things; with time all things are revealed; time is the father of truth.’   

Last Friday, Tony ELumelu, chairman of Heirs Holdings, the parent company of Afriland Properties, led Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu and other preeminent Nigerians to the commissioning of the rebirth of the facility now called Afriland Towers.

Now a fully serviced, 8-floor business complex situated in the heart of Lagos business district, Marina, the newly renovated complex contains an open plan office setting with floor to ceiling windows, overlooking the bustling Marina district, modern décor enhanced by energy-saving utilities, and spacious parking lots for the convenience of its visitors. From its grounds also would spring the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Lagos.

Impressed by the ambience and size of the development, Governor Sanwo-Olu commended Tony Elumelu, CON, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, a lead investor in Afriland Properties Plc.  “My very good friend and brother Tony Elumelu continues to make Nigeria proud. His example of making strategic investments in infrastructure that creates public good is one we should all applaud.  It is an honour to be here this afternoon to see yet again, an underperforming asset turned into what we are witnessing here.”

The governor expressed his commitment to collaborating with Afriland for the development of the state, saying, “Afriland is making long term investments that are greatly helping the revival of the Central Business District of Lagos – I am delighted that Afriland is so clearly contributing to the redevelopment of Lagos.  I want to thank the board and management of Afriland Properties for taking this bold initiative.  You have put real money where your mouth is.
Elumelu, in his remarks, commended the governor’s vision for a prosperous Lagos and emphasised the importance of private-public collaboration to catalyse development and employment in Lagos.

He said, “I want to see a thriving and redeveloped Lagos Island.  What we are doing here today is just the beginning of what we want to do at Falomo.  We want to realise the potential of Lagos.  Falomo is a unique property, a place where we want to showcase the potential of Lagos and what it can become.  We are looking forward to engaging with Lagos State further, so we can all develop this historic and flagship location, which truly puts our city on the global map.”

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