Lai Mohammed: National Theatre Restoration to generate 10,000 jobs

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Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said
the planned restoration and upgrade of the iconic National Theatre
will generate about 10,000 jobs during and after the restoration

The Minister stated this during the formal handover of the edifice and
the adjoining 134-hectare fallow land to the Central Bank of Nigeria
and the Bankers’ Committee in Lagos on Sunday

”Please permit me to start off by making a clarification: this iconic
National Theatre remains a national heritage and will not be ceded to
any person or group, as some have chosen to frame what we are doing here today. What we are here to do is to hand over the National
Theatre for restoration and upgrade and the fallow land within the
premises to the Central Bank and the Bankers’ Committee for
development.

”The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture holds the keys to
the National Theatre on behalf of all Nigerians,” he said at the
handover ceremony, which was witnessed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu
of Lagos and his Deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; the Minister of Youth and
Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare; the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin
Emefiele; the Chairman of the Committee of Banks’ CEOs, Mr. Herbert
Wigwe, and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and
Culture, Deaconess Grace Isu Gekpe, among others.

Mohammed said the N25 billion project, tagged the Lagos
Creative and Entertainment Centre Project, is a Public-Private
Partnership (PPP) that will be executed in two phases, with Phase 1
being the restoration and upgrade of the National Theatre to its glory
days at a cost of 7 billion Naira, and Phase II the development of the
adjoining fallow land at a cost of N18 billion.

”The good news is that this project will not lead to a single job
loss. Instead, it will create more. Some 6,000 jobs will 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. This is as good as it gets!” he said

The Minister described the handover of the facility as a ‘historic day
in the annals of the Creative Industry in Nigeria’, saying the project
is a win-win for all involved

”For over 40 years, no major renovation work has been done on the
National Theatre, while the adjoining land has been lying fallow. Many attempts to restore the National Theatre
have failed. And the 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 to encourage the advancement of
the performing arts throughout the country; to create opportunities
for performing artists of the country as well as to aid the promotion
of social development and the improvement of the quality of life. In
its present state, it is not living to its billing,” he said.

Recalling the glory days of the National Theatre, Mohammed said the edifice once hosted all Nigerian State Government functions and musical extravaganzas such as the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Roy
Ayers, Skyy, Shalamar, Whispers, Third world and Dynasty; stage events
like Wole Soyinka’s adaptation of D.O Fagunwa’s Langbodo and even
Stevie Wonder, who received one of his numerous Grammy Awards at the
National Theatre.

Highlights of the first phase include the upgrade of the theatres (the
main halls and cinema halls, conference
and banquet halls, press hall and the bar); installation of new seats,
upgrade of the sanitary facilities, installation of lifts, acoustics
and specialist lightings, as well as replacement of the air
conditioning, lighting and plumbing.

Phase II will involve the development of purpose-built clusters to
provide world class facilities for Nigeria’s Creative Industry, with
the clusters having four hubs: Fashion, Music, Film and Information
and Technology (IT) hubs.

The creative clusters will be supported by other facilities, including
multi-storey parking to accommodate 1,000 cars, a Visitors’ Welcome
Centre which will house commercial and retail facilities, as well as
administration and management offices.

The project is expected to be completed in 18 months.

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