The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said he will on Sunday hand over the National Theatre to the Bankers Committee for the planned renovation of the edifice. He noted that the glory of the edifice would be restored on completion.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in October 2019 approved the renovation of the building and its premises, a task to be undertaken by the Bankers Committee, which is a body of the Chief Executive Officers of commercial banks, some officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria, with the apex bank governor as the chairman.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, had said on December 14, 2019 that the committee would spend not less than N20bn on the project, which he said would help to create economic activities around the National Theatre and create job opportunities for people, especially the youth.
“Bankers Committee itself has its own funds that it has set aside; nothing less than N20bn will be spent to carry out the maintenance,” he added.
But speaking on Thursday at a webinar, themed, ‘Post COVID-19: For African tourism to revive, reboot and refocus’ held in commemoration of the 50th birthday of a former Lagos State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr Steve Ayorinde, the Information Minister described the partnership to revive the National Theatre as humongous.
While commending Ayorinde for choosing a theme around the creative industry for his birthday celebration, he said the committee he set up to look at ways of softening the impact of COVID-19 on the industry had within a very short period and at no cost to government put together a “first-class” report that would help the government to map the way forward. The committee was chaired by a popular comedian, Alibaba.
Mohammed added, “Following this is what I call the epic public-private sector partnership in the creative industry, which is a partnership between the Ministry of Information and Culture on one hand and the CBN and the Bankers Committee on the other hand. And this particular initiative is so humongous because in one single stroke, the Bankers Committee are investing about N20bn in the creative industry.
“What this means is that the committee would rehabilitate the entire iconic National Theatre to what it used to be and in a few months, we are going to have the National Theatre back to its old glory; the days when it hosted Steve Wonders and co. With this partnership, it means the edifice would be restored to its old glory.”
“I will, by the grace of God, with my team be handing over the National Theatre property and the entire land to the Bankers’ Committee at a ceremony this Sunday at the National Theatre. This partnership is between the Lagos State Government, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, the Bankers’ Committee and the Youths and Sports. He noted that the National Theatre would be converted to a creative village, with four other pillars, including a pillar for the film industry; one for the music industry, one for fashion and another one for Information Technology.”
While eulogising Ayorinde, he said, “I think it’s just apt given the fact that Steve has actually dedicated lots of his life and career to the promotion of the creative industry. His tenure as the commissioner for tourism and culture in Lagos State was signposted by beautiful developments in the creative industry.”