The Nigerian cultural landscape recorded a rare history on Sunday when the Federal Government handed over the National Theatre to the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bankers Committee for rehabilitation.
It is a major happening based on how several efforts to transfer the monument to private initiatives had failed in the past.
The event was attended by dignitaries including the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Past governments, including those of Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan tried options that included concession and private management but they did not come through.
Although the new arrangement stresses ‘rehabilitation’, stakeholders believe things may need remain the same for the theatre which has been stagnated for decades.
Some of the artists who spoke with Phenomenal.com.ng expressed cautious if not mixed optimism.
They believe that the monument needs to be saved and made to work but they fear that artists may not have access to it again if it becomes a private enterprise.
“We don’t know the details yet. We are eager to know what happens to the the theatre and al practitioners connected to it,” said Pelumi Lawal, a multi-valeted artist.
But the government and the bankers appear to mean business, looking at the multiple effects of rebuilding the monument founded in 1976.
During the handover ceremony of the facility which was constructed in 1976, the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the bankers were targeting one million job creation from the project in the next five years.