By Vera Anyagafu
The 134 acres of Nigeria’s National Theatre and its fallow land has officially been handed over to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers’ Committee of Nigeria for repair and upgrade by the Federal Government.
The Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who officially handed over the documents that symbolically ceded the Arts Theatre to the Bankers’ Committee and the CBN for development, said its to enable transformation of the creative industry in Nigeria.
At the handing over ceremony, held early in the week at Iganmu, Lagos, Lai Mohammed, said it is a private-public partnership aimed at also creating more jobs for Nigerian youths.
He also said that the Federal Government has no intention of giving it to any individual, adding that the job, which would be completed in 18 months’ time would also prepare the arts edifice to compete favourably with entertainment centres around the world.
While also assuring that the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture would continue to hold the keys to the arts theatre on behalf of Lagos State and the entire country, he said there would be no job losses among employees of the Arts Theatre, rather, the project would create more jobs for Nigerian youths.
The Minister explained that the development of the arts theatre, would be effected in four hubs, including music, Information Technology, fashion and film, noting that the project, which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari is a win-win contract.
For over 40 years, no meaningful job was done on the arts theatre, the Minister added, while appreciating President Buhari for signing the order to cede the arts theatre, to create jobs and help curb youth unemployment in the country.
He also enjoined all and sundry to support the project so that a befitting national heritage would be bequeathed to the Nigerian youths.
Also speaking at the event which marked a historic day in the annals of the creative industry, the Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who commended the President for the vision to revitalise the National Arts Theatre, said that Lagos state would benefit from the renovations.
Sanwo-Olu described the development as a synergy between the state and Federal government and expressed optimism that in months to come, President Buhari would be invited to tour the edifice.
The governor also acknowledged the place of IT in national development, saying there is no way Lagos can become a 21st Century asset if the National Arts Theatre is not revamped and promised that his administration will support everything that is required to make the renovation happen.
Chairman, Committee of Banks’ Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers, Hubert Wigwe, in his remarks, said the ceremony was the beginning of a well-structured approach to boost the creative industry, which provides jobs for youths.
Similarly, governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, assured it is going to be a glorious era for the National Arts Theatre.