The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Sunday said that the National Arts Theater would become the number one event centre in Africa.
The minister disclosed this during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Bankers’ Committee and the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in Lagos.
Mohammed also added that the renovation of the theater would lead to no job loss but rather, create more jobs during and after the reconstruction.
“The main essence of what we are doing today is to set the stage for restoration and upgrade of the national theatre and the development of the fallow land within its premises.
“When completed, the new national theatre will become the number one event centre in Africa.
“There can be no more fitting tag for this edifice that is situated in the home of Afrobeat, Nollywood and the pride of Black African Arts and Culture.
“For the Federal Government, this is a win-win situation. Not only will the national theatre be restored and better managed, the project will not lead to a single job loss and some 6,000 jobs will be created during the construction phase of the clusters.
“Upon completion, it is estimated that an additional 600 permanent and 2,000 to 3,000 call-on/call-off jobs will be created,” he said.
The minister further clarified that the theatre had not been sold to any individual, as was wrongly speculated, adding that it was a world class facility for Nigeria’s creative industry.
“Like I did in July, let me make a clarification. This iconic edifice, the national theatre, remains a national heritage and will not be sold to any person or group, as some have chosen to frame the agreement between us and the Bankers’ Committee.
“Apart from the restoration of the national theatre, there will be the development of a purpose-built clusters to provide world class facilities for Nigeria’s creative industry.
“The clusters will comprise hubs for fashion, music, film as well as information and technology hub.
“We are excited by this project because, for over 40 years, no major renovation work has been done on this theatre, while the adjoining land has been lying fallow.
“Many attempts to restore the theatre have failed and the government has no money to restore the complex, which is the hub of the creative industry in Nigeria.
“Let’s remember that the national theatre was established to encourage the advancement of the performing arts throughout the country,” he stated.
He added that it was also to create opportunities for performing artistes of the country, as well as to aid the promotion of social development and the improvement of quality of life.
“In its present state, it is not living up to its billing, hence this innovative decision to partner with the Bankers’ Committee,” he added.
The minister then lauded President Muhammadu Buhari, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos and the entire Federal Cabinet for making the agreement a reality.
He also commended the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele; the Bankers’ Committee and the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Dr. lfeoma Adaora Anyanwutaku.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the National Arts Theatre in Iganmu was handed over to the Banker’s Committee for renovation on July 12, 2020.
However, work could not commence as the Federal Executive Council (FEC) was yet to approve the deal. On Feb. 10, the FEC approved the agreement that would lead to the renovation and commercialisation of the theatre in Lagos, for N21 billion.