The Federal Government has officially handed over the National Arts Theatre Iganmu to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the Bankers Committee for renovation and redevelopment into a world-class convention centre to be completed within 18 months.
In an address at the ceremony which took place at the National Theatre Lagos, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed who said the move was to restore the lost glory of the edifice, noted that it was purely on Public-Private Partnership basis and the national theatre remains the property of the Federal Government and a national monument.
He stated that the Federal Ministry of Information would continue to hold the keys of the National Arts Theatre for all Nigerians, pointing out that no major renovation work has been done on the edifice for more than forty years hence the need to make proper use of the 134 hectares of land.
“Contrary to what naysayers are spinning, no one is hijacking the National Theatre, It remains our national heritage. This Public-Private Partnership is a win-win for all. It restores this iconic edifice to its glory days and develops the land that has been lying fallow for over four decades, creating massive jobs for our teeming youths and providing a go-to spot for our teeming population. I, therefore, enjoin all of us to give our maximum support to this project so we can bequeath a befitting national heritage to the coming generations”, he said.
Alhaji Lai Muhammed explained that the project had three phases and the first includes the renovation of the main building, lighting, acoustics, installation of new seats, while the second phase entails the construction of the fallow lands to the original master plan and assured that no single job would be lost rather, about 10,000 jobs would be generated, during and after the redevelopment.
In a remark the Lagos state Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo Olu commended the Federal government for such a historic move and explained that the creative village would become the destination for tourism, entertainment, and commerce which Lagos is known for, thereby creating more jobs and wealth for Nigerians.
On his part, Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare said the project is aimed at boosting talent discovery and development and it is much needed to positively channel the energy in youths.
Governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who received the Edifice on behalf of the Bankers Committee and development partners, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his foresight in transforming the iconic edifice and surrounding land and said when fully developed, the edifice would be 10 times the size of the Convention Center in Peru.
The National Theatre was built in 1976 as a focal point for the celebration of Nigerian art and culture, popularly called FESTAC ’77 and has been the core location for performing arts in Nigeria.