National Theatre to become number one event centre in Africa – Lai Mohammed

National Theatre to become number one event centre in Africa – Lai Mohammed
Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Sunday said that the National Arts Theatre 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.

Contract award signing ceremony for the restoration and refurbishment of the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos

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.

Emefiele said at the event that no fewer than 25,000 people would be working at the National Arts Theatre upon completion.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the first phase of the project, which would have four hubs for music, fashion, information technology and movies, would be ready in 15 months.

Emefiele said: “Massive job creation in this upsurge of creative entrepreneurship starts now.

“We anticipate that there would be at least 10,000 direct and indirect jobs created during the construction of the Lagos Creative and Entertainment Centre.

“We also project that over 25,000 people would be engaged in different sections of the centre when the signature cluster is completed, with anticipated multiplier effect of other job opportunities,” Emefiele said.

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National Theatre

He also disclosed that the first phase would gulp about N21.3 billion .

Describing the complex as one of the most “iconic buildings” in Nigeria, Emefiele said despite its current state, nearly 45 years after it was built, it had continued to inspire the creativity of Nigerians, especially the teeming youthful population.

” The idea behind the project, christened: “LAGOS CREATIVE AND ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE,” is simple.

” Firstly, we seek to restore the glory of an iconic building by aligning most of the fabric and equipment and facilities in the building with the aesthetics of the 21st century.

“Secondly, to develop an ecosystem of creative hubs on the adjoining 44 hectare parcel of land. This new facility will complement and enhance the National Arts Theatre”, he said.

The apex bank governor said that the Bankers’ Committee would provide funding for a prototype cluster located to the north of the National Arts Theatre, a development the committee labelled the “Signature Cluster”.

He said that the facility would be a convenor – providing space, support network, business development and community engagement for the creative, cultural and technology sectors.

Emefiele said that the Signature Cluster would consist of a building each for music, film, fashion and information technology verticals.

He added that it would consist of a welcome/visitor’s centre, police and fire stations, and structured parking for up to 500 vehicles would be built.

Consequently, he said that the 44 hectare site adjourning the National Theatre would be developed and utilised for the development of purpose-built creative hubs for the fashion industry, music and film as well as information technology (IT).

According to him, the aim is to deliver a successful Creative and Entertainment city that will encourage additional investment into Nigeria’s creative industry.

He said: “This parcel of land, which is currently a polluted storm water retention basin will be dredged, with the expectation that the Ebute Meta creek will be re-instated to ensure adequate flushing and free flow of clean water”.

He said that each structure had been uniquely designed to function independently, yet codependently, providing the opportunity for extensive collaborations between the different creative communities.

Emefiele said that the fashion building would be a full-fledged apparel production facility with textile showroom, retail and photography spaces and teaching laboratories

The music building, he said, would house recording studios with all front and back-end spaces and facilities.

In addition to the four signature buildings, Emefiele said that other support facilities which included multi-storey parking to accommodate 500 cars (the National Theatre currently had dedicated parking for 250 cars), a police station, a fire station and a visitors’ Welcome Centre will be built.

He said the Welcome Centre which sits at the heart of the “civic” master plan would house commercial and retail facilities, administration and management offices amongst others.

The CBN governor said that the main contractor is Cappa and D’Alberto Ltd., the Electrical Sub Contractor is Nairda Ltd., while the Mechanical Sub Contractor is VACC Ltd.

He said that the committee had gone through rigorous and transparent processes to arrive at these names, saying they are well regarded names in the industry.

Besides, he said there were timelines and milestones which would be followed for a successful completion and hand over.

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.

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