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National Theatre to get N25b facelift as government hands over facility to bankers

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Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu (right); Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele; Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; and his Youth and Sports Development counterpart, Sunday Dare, during the official handing over of the National Theatre to the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee for restoration in Lagos…yesterday.<br />

No one is hijacking complex, minister maintains
The National Theatre, Iganmu is to be turned around with N25 billion via a public-private partnership (PPP), in a two-phased effort.

The Lagos Creative and Entertainment Centre Project would upgrade the facility at a cost of N7 billion in the first phase, while the second that involves the development of the fallow land within the complex, is to gulp N18 billion.

The disclosure came to the fore yesterday as the Federal Government handed over the national asset to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)/Bankers’ Committee to return it to its glorious years in Lagos.

Since 2001, artists have protested the ‘privatisation’ of the infrastructure, which they described as their soul.

Following protests and the several representations made to government on the need to preserve the edifice for posterity, as it is done all over the world, government, in November 2000, amended a recommendation made in a document titled, “Government White Paper on the Review, Harmonisation and Rationalisation of Federal Parastatals/Institutions and Agencies.”

In the stated white paper, which government circulated to calm restive nerves, it was recommended that: “The National Theatre of Nigeria, Lagos should be commercialised.”

In his remarks at the event, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, lauded the move, observing that the renovation, “will lead to a regeneration of the neighbourhood.”

Also speaking, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, stated: “This iconic National Theatre remains a national heritage, and would not be ceded to any person or group, as some have chosen to frame what we are doing here today.”

He clarified that the project would not lead to a single job loss, adding: “Some 6,000 jobs would be created during the construction phase, while the completed project could generate up to an additional 600 permanent and 2000 to 3000 call-on/call-off jobs.”

Also, the chairman of Bankers’ Committee and CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said: “Our goal for the National Theatre, is to create an environment where startups and existing businesses are rewarded for their creativity. The National Theatre, when fully renovated, would be able to support skills acquisition and job creation for over one million Nigerians over the next five years.”

He went on: “These Nigerians would be empowered with funds at a single digit interest rate, high-level training, using state-of-the-art tools and networks, that would enable them to turn their ideas into a reality. When they are able to achieve their objective of creating a new music product, a high-quality movie, an IT software application, or a fashionable outfit, the Bankers’ Committee will work to ensure that they are able to distribute their work on a larger scale.”


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