The Minister for Culture and Information, Lai Moammed , on Sunday in Lagos handed over the National Theatre to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the Bankers committee for restoration and upgrade.
Speaking at the event, LaiMohammed said the National Theatre, despite the arrangement, still remained a national heritage.
He said the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture would continue to hold the keys to the iconic national heritage in spite of the Public-Private Partnership arrangement between FG and the Bankers Committee.
”Please permit me to make clarifications that this iconic National Theatre remains a national heritage and will not be ceded to any person or group as some naysayers are insinuating, it remains our national heritage.
”The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture will continue to hold the keys to the National Theatre on behalf of all Nigerians.
”What we are here to do is to handover the National Theatre for restoration and upgrade and also the 134 hectares of fallow land within the premises to the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bankers committee for development,” he said.
The minister said the PPP arrangement would be in two phases which were; the restoration and upgrade of the National Theatre to its glory days, while the second phase would be the development of the fallow land surrounding the edifice.
”Another good news is that this project will not lead to any single job loss rather, it will create more, over 6,000 jobs will be created during the construction phase while the completed project could generate additional 600 permanent jobs and 2000 to 3,000 jobs, this is a good one,” he said.
The Minister said the project which had been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari would be a win-win arrangement for everyone involved.
”The place had been left for over four decades without any form of renovation.
”Government has no money to restore the complex as you know, this is the hub of the creative industry in Nigeria.
‘’The National Theatre was established for the advancement of the performing arts throughout the country, to also encourage the promotion of the social development and improvement of the quality of life.
”But its present state is not living to its billing,” he said.
The minister said that the centre, upon upgrade, would comprise creative clusters of fashion, music, film and information technology which would be supported by other facilities including multi-storey parking space to accommodate over 1000 cars.
”There would be the administrative and management offices, this will create massive job opportunities for the youths.
Meanwhile, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said Nigeria has the potential to earn over $20bn annually from the creative industry.
Emefiele said this at the official handover of the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos to the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee.
The Bankers’ Committee had in December 2018 agreed to set up the Creative Industries and Financing Initiative (CIFI) with a major focus on four pillars: music, movies, fashion and Information Technology.
Towards the realisation of its objective, the Bankers’ Committee intends to support this creative venture with about N25 billion of initial funding.
“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, will be able to support skills acquisition and job creation for over 1 million Nigerians over the next five years. These Nigerians will be empowered with funds at single-digit interest rate, high level training using state-of-the-art tools, and networks that will enable them to turn their ideas into a reality,” Emefiele said.
“It will also aid our objective of reducing our dependence on revenues from crude oil. India, for example, in 2018, generated over $240bn from exports of IT, movies, music and fashion-related goods and services. This amount is over five times our annual earnings from the sale of crude oil.
“With our human capital resources and an enabling environment that will help harness the creative talents of our youths, Nigeria has the potential to earn over $20bn annually from the creative industry,” he said.
He said the handover of the National Theatre to the CBN/Bankers Committee was timely considering the external headwinds facing the economy today.
Following the completion of the renovation works at the National Theatre, along with the supporting facilities that will be built around it, which include a hotel and an expansive conference centre, Emefiele said the committee intends to set up similar Creative Industries Centres in Kano, Port Harcourt or Enugu.
Dignitaries in attendance at the event include Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture; Sunday Dare, minister of youth and sports; Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State governor; Herbert Wigwe, managing director/CEO, Access Bank plc, and other top officials in government.
In his remarks, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the project fits state government’s vision and plan of new Lagos.
He thanked the CBN governor and the Bankers’ Committee for pushing the initiative which started a year and a half ago.
“This is a new life for all us. It is not about anybody losing job. It is all about bringing better refreshing, a job that when you wake up in the morning you are happy and want to go and sell, that is what we are bringing together,” Sanwo-Olu said.
“It is about the future. It is about the people that are going to come behind us. It is about the children that will come in 10, 15 years and will see what we have done to this place,” he said.
The governor said the creative industry can change the Nigeria’s fortune and the fortune of the youth.
“The least we can do for them is to give them that opportunity, to give them that space to do those things they know how to do,” he said.