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FG Rescinds Plan To Eject Agencies Around National Theatre

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The Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, who is also the Supervising Minister of Information, last week in Lagos said that the ongoing plan to redevelop the National Theatre and its surrounding fallow lands will not claim some of the tenants housed within the national theatre complex.

The minister, who said this while inaugurating the new APCON Council, disclosed that the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) and other government agencies within the complex will not be ejected as a result of the ongoing plans to transform the complex into an entertainment city.

This is however coming after earlier information, which was corroborated by the General Manager of the National Theatre Complex, Kabiru Yar’adua during a press briefing in Lagos recently.

The thinking among many stakeholders is why is the minister coming out to say this at this time. It would be recalled that the GM of the National Theatre then said that asides all the tenants had been issued quit notices; all government agencies within the complex had been properly relocated within Lagos. And it was reliably gathered that the quit notices had been duly served all the tenants within the complex.

The minister further said, “The National Theatre will not be sold. There are no plans to do so. The information that we are going to sell this iconic place is the handiwork of mischief-makers. On the contrary, what this government plans to do is to change the status of this place into an entertainment city that will create a new vista of opportunities for Nigerian artists to fulfill their artistic talents. Just like we did with the Centenary Village, we are going to transform the Theatre into a place Nigerians and Africans would be proud of,” he said.

Duke further said that Nigerians are witnesses to the successes of private sector investment in communication, wondering why they are apprehensive of the investment in entertainment, leisure, theatre?

“Why do we always go backward? We are going to see a phenomenal development in this place, which would be a credit to Nigeria. Every time we have a road show, media people are never there. They disappear into the recessive of the city and then go to write fiction.

He maintained that because the Jonathan led administration is commitment to transforming the entertainment sector and because of the fact that leisure, entertainment and creative sectors are making immense contribution, the administration is assiduously working to provide a legacy reward for entertainment sector by growing it beyond the expectation of the Nigerian people.

“Right now, we are going through a technical bid, which will culminate in a financial evaluation. So let us follow it and follow what is happening. Please, do not spread false rumours?”

But the minister is yet to refute the allegation of a deal brokered with a Dubai investor to convert some sections of the theatre edifice to shopping mall, a clearly different project outside the efforts to turn the fallow land to entertainment city.



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