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Revitalising National Theatre, a step to 21st century Lagos – Sanwo-Olu

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As FG officially hands over National Theatre to CBN, Bankers Committee for renovation

PICTURE ABOVE CREDIT: LASG

Lagos Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu says the revitalisation of the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, is a step toward making the state a 21st Century economy.

Sanwo-Olu said this on Sunday, during the handover ceremony of the National Arts Theatre, by the Federal Government to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers Committee, for revamping and regeneration.

Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a discussion with Governor, Lagos State, Babajide Sanwoolu. CBN Governor, Phillip Emefiele and Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat look on. PHOTO CREDIT: LASG

He said that making Lagos a 21st century economy, was the fourth pillar of his administration’s T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda.

According to him, there is no way the state can be a 21st century economy, if the centre piece called the National Arts Theatre is not revitalised.

”There is no way we will make a 21st century economy if this entire massive real estate and land, that we have are not turned from a dead asset to a living asset.

”It fits with our vision, it fits with our plan, it fits with our thinking of our new Lagos,” he said.

Sanwo-Olu said that the journey of regenerating the National Theatre started about 10 months ago and people misconstrued what the objectives and plans were.

He said that the purpose was not to move people out of job, but to create more jobs and boost the economy.

The governor said that the entire creative industry and Lagos State in particular, would benefit from the revamping of the National Theatre.

”It is exactly 410 days that we all got sworn-in as governor of Lagos State and so we are counting.

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”We have agreed and said that in a maximum of 22 months, we will be bringing the president here, to walk him round the new, reformed, revitalised National Arts Theatre and all of the adjoining buildings, while we are still in government, there is no better joy for me personally than that.

”Lagos is a signature, Lagos is a centre piece. We have had good times in the National Theatre and it is time to revitalise it.

Speaking at the event, Mohammed said that the National Theare, despite the arrangement, still remained a national heritage.

He said that the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture would continue to hold the keys to the iconic national heritage inspite 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 that 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.

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”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.

Also, the Minister for Youths and Sports, Mr Sunday Dare, said that it was a privilege for him to be at the event which would see to revampimg the creative and entertainment centre.

Dare said many would wonder why the Minister for Youths was at the event forgetting that the youth would benefit more from the project as they are the most active part of the creative industry.

“The potential of the new National Theatre is massive job creation, talent discovery for our youths and the coming generation being an information and technology hub.

”With the Pandemic still biting hard, this project is much more divine and needed to battle the multi-headed challenge of unemployment, criminality and the negative impression that is thrust upon individuals who have chosen the life of crime.

On his part, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, speaking on behalf of the Bankers Committee said that the National Arts Theatre, when renovated and fully operational, would lead to the build up of a more resilient economy.

Emefiele said that the handover of the facility to the committee was timely, considering the external headwinds facing the country’s economy at the moment.

“The impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and the containment measures that have been put in place to contain the spread of the virus has led to a slowdown in global growth which has also affected the Nigerian economy.

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“In addition to the public health challenge, our country is faced with a revenue shock primarily driven by the 40 per cent drop in crude oil prices between January 2020 and now.

“Given our dependence on crude oil as a major source of government revenue, as well as for our foreign exchange earnings, these challenges have served to reinforce the need for stakeholders to promote policies and programs that will enable greater diversification of the Nigerian economy.

“A diversified economy that supports increased productivity in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, while harnessing the talents of our youths in the creative industries, will lead to the buildup of a more resilient economy, that is better able to withstand external shocks, while creating wealth and jobs for our growing population,” Emefiele said.

The CBN governor said that the renovation which would be completed in another 18 months, would have transformed the facility into Nigeria’s Creative Industrial Center.

Emefiele thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for handing over the facility to the Bankers Committee, assuring that these skills are harnessed to support the growth of the creative industries, and by extension the growth of the Nigerian economy. (NAN)

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