By MCPHILIPS NWACHUKWU
IT is one thing to concession out a property, and it is another thing to develop and put to good used the concessioned property. It is on the recognition of this fact that one appreciates efforts of the management of BHS International, the successful bidder at the concession auctioning of Tafawa Balewa Square three years ago.
The property, historic Tafawa Balewa Square, popularly known as TBS, the multi purpose complex, where British Union Jack was lowered in 1960 for the Nigeriaâ€™ Green White Green flag to mount as a new symbol of authority as an independent nation was among some of the high profile properties, which for the nature of their historic relevance, instead of being out rightly sold, was on that merit rather leased out for proper management and optimum utilization by the then President Obasanjo led government.
The itemization of TBS along side the nationâ€™s cultural soul, National Theatre, Orile Igaunmu was seriously challenged by the arts and culture community in Lagos. These climes argued the complexes in question embody the cultural and historical dynamics of the nation, and therefore needed to be left alone as historical monuments.
As laudable as their arguments seemed, the Otta chicken farm president, Olusegun Obasanjo and his team of economic reformers insisted on concessioning TBS. Sad as it were, some good news are, however, beginning to filter in from BHL International, the management of the acquired complex.
At a press meeting between the management of BHS International and some culture and property journalists at the corporate headquarters of the company recently in Lagos, the company speaking through its managing drector, Martin Baines outlined plans by his organization towards the development of TBS as an envisioned city centre and also, as a number one tourist cum cultural destination point in the continent.
While outlining his programmes of development, Baines told journalists that his organization was not unmindful of the historic and cultural character of the complex, hence the decision of his company to incorporate cultural landmarks and iconic symbols even in some of the proposed artistic cum architectural impressions, intended to be used as structure models for buildings in the acquired complex.
According to him, “we remain consistent in our basic goal of turning the complex into a city centre providing top class hotel, business and leisure facilities and encapsulating the spirit and tradition of Lagos and Nigeria.â€
In line with this vision, the management of BHL also revealed plans to partnering with a sister company, Bepong, a tourism and infrastructure firm in an effort at pulling through programmes well thought out that will help shape the complex as an important event city mall not only in Nigeria, but also in the continent. â€œBepong, being an affiliate member of the Business Council, World Tourism Organization, WTO, understands the role of culture and tourism in attracting foreign investmentâ€¦â€
To this effect, the partnering groups, “are now collaborating with culture groups, association as well as individuals and companies, including multinationals in several sectors of the economy to create events that will showcase cultural and business development in Nigeria.
Bepong is launching a performing art troupe very soon to further show our commitment to the culture sector. The troupe as planned will engage in performances such as theatre productions, TV and film production, musical performances, events managementâ€¦â€
With all these ready, the new city mall, which promises a 2000 capacity shopping spaces will begin to reel out programmes such as shows and conferences like art exhibition, models extravaganza and dinner, first Tafawa Balewa fashion and accessory fair and first national food and drink fair.
Other programmes include exhibition of Nigerian art, parade of Nigeriaâ€™s top models, fashion as another source of revenue generation, development and the financial services in view of the global economic meltdown among other things.