By Pelu Awofeso
One Saturday morning in January , former President Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria) conducted visiting President John Kufour (Ghana) on a swift tour of The Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), situated off Presidential Boulevard, Oke-Mosan, in Abeokuta, Ogun State, South-West Nigeria. Escorted by a long convoy of protocol officers and police officers, both men drove uphill to see some of the structures dotting the sprawling complex.
The OOPL is still very much a work in progress. Workmen can be seen around the complex moulding concrete slabs, watering the fledgling gardens and installing water-heaters in the 145-room Green Legacy Resort. That notwithstanding, the OOPL is partially open for business. Already, 75 rooms of the resort, an imposing brick-and-cement structure billed as a 4-star affair, are furnished and available for reservations and bookings.
One of the packages that go with group bookings is a guided tour of the facility. For the time being, a tour of the OOPL include stops at the Presidential Library (still being constructed); a museum of military hardware from the civil war (star attractions include a helicopter and Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), said to have been flown and driven respectively, by then then young Obasanjo); a 24-foot deep dam (think boat cruises); and a room of photographic exhibitions.
The tour naturally ends on the Rock of Inspiration & Meditation, the top of which is reached by a flight of 74 steps. The walking tour lasts roughly an hour and is an excellent way to exercise.
“The OOPL sits on 32 hectares of land. It will be officially commissioned in January 2014,” says a member of staff, who didn’t want to be named. “It is the 14th presidential Library in the world but the first of its kind in Africa.”
President Obasanjo is said to be bent on making every part the OOPL ooze African ideals. So it is no surprise that there is an ‘African Village’ and the Adire and African Fabrics Centre (AAFC), which also stocks locally-made crafts and keepsakes. The 900-seater auditorium, which doubles as a cinema on weekends screens only Nigerian made films exclusively at the moment.
“This place is almost like a country,” says a guest, who’d just been taken round the complex. Also within the premises, there’s a bookshop, a chapel, a mosque, an amphitheater and the ‘Category 2’ UNESCO Institute for African Culture & International Understanding.
“There is also a ‘Bamboo Grove’,” says a staff in the Admin department. “A gala was hosted there recently and President Obasanjo was present, dancing to the live performance by a local group called Sweet Banana.”
The Bamboo Grove is one of the fascinating spots in the complex. A gentle stream runs through a rock-lined pathway, adding a soothing atmosphere to the ambience. Here, guests can sit at a green bench, or on the surrounding grass, completely at peace and away from the busy areas.
“This Library Complex is going to change the face of Abeokuta completely,” one guest says, while admiring the surroundings.
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