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FG hands over National Theatre to banks, targets $20bn revenue

By News Desk

As part of the strategy to restore the status of National Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos, the Federal Government has handed over the edifice to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the bankers’ committee for renovation.

National Theatre handover ceremony was held in Lagos on Sunday came barely a year after President Muhammadu Buhari approved that the facility is handed over to the CBN and bankers’ committee for onward renovation.

The ceremony was attended by Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele; Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare; Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; the CEO, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe;  his deputy and other top officials in the state government.

Emefiele, while addressing guest at the ceremony stated that the handover was timely considering the dwindling external earnings confronting the country’s economy.

The CBN governor said that the facility will be able to support skill acquisition and create jobs for over one million Nigerians within upon completion.

“Our goal for the national theatre is to create an environment where start-ups and existing businesses are rewarded for their creativity.”

“These Nigerians will be empowered with funds at a single-digit interest rate, high-level training using state-of-the-art tools, and networks that will enable them to turn their ideas into a reality.”

According to him, Nigeria has the potential to earn over $20 billion annually from the creative industry and with this project, the country can aspire that.

Mohammed explained that the renovation would be a win-win for every stakeholder and assured the current staff that their jobs are secure.

“We must transform the national theatre to its glory days. The new centre would comprise hub for fashion, music, ICT and will have commercial and retail facilities, among others,” the minister added.

 Sanwo-Olu, who described the move as a step in the right direction, hinted that the revitalisation of the edifice would aid the 21st Century Lagos State economy agenda.
He said that making Lagos a 21st Century economy was the fourth pillar of his administration’s T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda and that there was no way the state can achieve its aim if the centrepiece called the National Arts Theatre was 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,” the governor added.
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, saying, the purpose was not to move people out of job, but to create more jobs and boost the economy.
”It is exactly 410 days that we all got sworn-in as governor of Lagos State and so we are counting. We have agreed and said that in a maximum of 22 months, we will be bringing the president here, to walk him around 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 centrepiece. We have had good times in the National Theatre and it is time to revitalise it. I think it will be a shame for all of us if we are not doing what we are doing today. If people can think about 40, 45 years ago and put this edifice here, the least we can do is what we are doing here today, to turn it around, to make it happen for another 40 years of people that are going to come behind us.
”With the regeneration of the National Theatre and its environs, we are writing our tomorrow today,” he said.

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