The minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, yesterday said that the National Arts Theatre, which was handed over to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for rehabilitation, will generate at least 8000 jobs upon completion.
Mohammed disclosed this when he featured on a Radio Nigeria live programme, “Politics Nationwide,” in Abuja, yesterday.
According to him, about 6000 jobs would be created at the reconstruction and revamping stages of the national theatre while additional 2000 jobs would be provided when the project was completed.
The minister also allayed the fears of the management of the national theatre as well as concerned stakeholders that the process might lead to job loss.
He said that instead, more jobs would be created and the rehabilitation which would boost the potentials of the creative and entertainment industry. The minister said the decision to hand over the national theatre to the CBN was informed by the need to reposition the entire creative industry.
He said: “The handover of the national theatre to the CBN is one of the many steps by the government to reposition the creative industry. As you know, the national theatre is the hub of the creative industry as a whole and one of the iconic edifices in the country. For more than 43 years, there has been really no serious renovation as a result of lack of funds by the government and the edifice is in a sorry state.
“Several attempts to privatise or concession the edifice either before or during my tenure as minister have failed, and the truth of the matter is that the government has no money to embark on the renovation. Therefore, when the CBN made the offer, we saw it as a golden opportunity to return the national theatre to its glory days.’’
On the agreement, the minister said that the CBN and its partner, the Bankers Committee, would renovate and revamp the edifice and hand over a brand-new national theatre back to the government. He said the government, in return, handed over about 142 fallow hectares around the edifice to them to construct a Lagos Creative and Entertainment City, with four hubs – film, music, fashion and IT.
Mr Mohammed said the national theatre and the hubs would be connected with other facilities, including waterways, amphitheatre and community centre, among others.
“The idea is to have a creative and entertainment centre where budding musicians can record their works and do post-productions and where budding actors can hold rehearsals and shoot their films. The national theatre will become the platform for consumption of the music, film and fashion produced in the hubs.
“The facilities would be given out at a much more affordable price because the intention is not just to make profit but to engender the growth of the creative industry,” he said.
The minister added that with the creative hubs in place, there would be an end to capital flight and economy bleed occasioned by artistes going outside the country for post-production of their films and music.
On the controversies generated by the handing over of the edifice to CBN, the minister said there was no time, before or during his tenure, that the government entered into any binding agreement with anybody.