By Yinka Odumakin
WE were being mesmerized by the tragic movie of Malami vs Magu graft joke when the “grab your copy now” of Nunieh vs Akpabio NDDC house of scandals was flashed in what has become the worst wretchedness of governance in the history of the country. Ms. Joi Nunieh, immediate past Acting Managing Director of Interim Management Committee of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, was full of rage. She reeled out criminal allegations against the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godwill Akpabio that would make you remember in a jiffy all the Niger Delta activists who put their lives on the line to get some of these concessions for the region.
Just like the flaw in keeping Magu as acting chair of EFCC for four years, an Interim Management Committee was put in charge of NDDC. Accused of introducing corruption worse than the one about to be audited in the agency, this strange body to the Constitution is now seen as reprsenting an opportunity for quick looting without being called to account. If Nunieh’s allegation that Akpabio told her the day the committee was put together to cooperate with all his directives “because the very biro I used to sign you in is the same one I will use to sign you out”, there is no need to search further how subversion of due process is sure promotion of corruption.
And these things are in layers. There could be no missing her narration of how SA Domestic to to the President, Abba Sarki, was the one calling “settlement“ meeting of NDDC matter in his space in the villa as the whole matter already became a joke! Equally alarming were her allegations of how Akpabio was asking for public funds under ridiculous demands with only those secured with gumption being able to say no to him.
Addressing journalists outside the venue of the hearing, Nunieh had alleged: “Nobody makes any payment in NDDC without Godswill Akpabio’s approval. When we first came, on the day of the inauguration, he said to me in the car, ‘Madam MD’, if you don’t do what I say, the same pen with which I used to sign your paper, is the same pen I will use to remove you.”
She continued: “He said the first thing I should do when I get to Port Harcourt is to change the dollars in the NDDC account. I was scared to do that, and he claimed that I have a poverty mentality. That I am afraid of money.”
But denying maltreating her, the immediate past two-term governor of Akwa Ibom State declared: “She was not relieved of her appointment because of corruption. She was relieved of her appointment because of insubordination. My ministry, (truly his) which supervises her, wrote seven letters to her, but she never responded to one. The late Chief of Staff to the President (Mallam Abba Kyari) sent a petition from the anti-corruption agency stating that she did not have the requisite qualifications to work as acting MD of a commission.”
The most tragic aspect of the film so far was the appearance of NDDC IMC Director of Projects on Channels TV “Sunday Night” with one activist called Johnson who made a mess of him with facts and figures. It hit me well that the man cut an image of guilt as I watched him also on TV the day he denied he had never awarded the various contracts that were being quoted for him. At the end of it, he started toasting the guy who appeared sure of his facts: “I won’t disrespect you though you are my young brother.”
The NDDC scandals have revealed the wickedness of the Nigerian elites and sheer criminality. For those of us who have toured the area to see the shame of the plight of the people, it is difficult to believe that this is what their elites are doing with the little opportunity the iniquitous Nigeria has allowed the area. It is more tragic that these are the films coming out of Nigeria in our “season of change”.With all we have witnessed so far, people are going to take to their heels when next they hear anybody shouting “change”.
Land grab at National Theatre
IT’S a shameful thing to admit that most of the national monuments Nigeria can boast of are military inheritance. One of them is the National Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos. Our civilian government is either renovating them like the National Assembly or doing what we can’t even understand like the National Theatre handed over to the CBN or Bankers Committee on Sunday. Construction of the National Arts Theatre was started by the military regime of General Yakubu Gowon and completed during the military regime of Olusegun Obasanjo. Its exterior is shaped like a military hat to leave imprint of khaki rule. It has a 5,000-seater Main Hall with a collapsible stage, and two capacity cinema halls, all of which are equipped with facilities for simultaneous translation of eight languages, among others.
The National Arts Theatre was designed and constructed by Bulgarian construction company (Techno Exporstroy), Alhaji Sule Katagum was a co-owner and also their Chairman. It resembles the Palace of Culture and Sports in Varna, Bulgaria (completed in 1968), the National Arts Theatre, Lagos being the bigger of the two. It has long become one of our derelicts and the shame of a country. After a meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo from which Jadeas (2006 bid winner) saw a signal it could work with Topwide Apeas Limited (TopWide), the winner of the 2013 process, it sought common ground and penned a memorandum of understanding with TopWide. They offered very attractive package which includes:
The National Arts Theatre Building: Transforms into a 21st Century performing arts complex. The National Arts Theatre building exterior which has assumed an iconic status for the country as a whole is retained as a “national heritage structure”, while its interior is gutted to “let in light” and programmed with spaces and content that appeal and resonate with a global African audience and across diverse socio-cultural constituencies.
It becomes the global televisual and performance stage to showcase the output of the entire LM & EC, from the Creative Industries Academy, CIA, Creative Industries Business Park, CIBP, Film and Music Studio, etc. The programming includes the following: 3,000 seater capacity televisual main bowl, Black Hall of Fame with Virtual Reality/Interactive Hologram, Museum of Black & African Art, MOBAA; Afrocentric Cinemaplex with Comedy Theatre, Convention Centre, Events and Meeting places, Food and Beverage, Souvenir shops.
Creative Industries University, CIU: The CIU is a 3,000 student population campus that cuts across the creative and digital industries. The student mix and faculty personnel are drawn from all over the world to foster exchange programmes and collaborations with similar institutions globally. There are master classes for practising professionals, joint degree programmes with affiliated foreign universities and vocational diploma studies within the creative industries. The CIU being within the Lagos Media and Entertainment City, affords students the opportunity of relevant work experience to learn and earn within the wider ecosystem. The departments within the campus include the following:
Creative Industries Business Park, CIBP: The Creative Industries Business Park is a 55- hectare predominantly business and commercial zoned precinct within the Black Heritage City with a sprinkling of residential accommodation. It is designed to be a 24/7 creative industry hub; the practitioners tend to work round the clock. There will be a budget hotel to service the freelance community and by virtue of the installation of world class, cutting edge ICT; broadband infrastructure etc. within the precinct, it becomes the location of choice for business within the creative and digital industries and across the value chain.
With the synergy between businesses within the precinct and the wider development, the pool of talent from the Creative Industries Academy, CIA; the 21st century televisual global and performance stage, the National Arts Theatre building has transformed into the integrated mixed use development of the Transit Oriented Development, TOD and makes the Creative Industries Business Park, CIBP, a premium location and the yardstick for relevance for any business within the industry.
The zoning regulations here are primarily for low rise commercial buildings with retail, food and beverage on the ground floor with a strong emphasis on human interaction, community and collaboration among the businesses. The foul swamp within the area is reclaimed, dredged, aerated, oxygenated and channelled to form a canal that begins with the water fountain and a slip way for boat rides that transverses the CIBP to terminate at the Water Park/ Family Entertainment Facility.
The Major Anchor Tenant for the CIBP is the Film and Music Studio with four sound stages and state-of-the-art, world class production facilities in picturesque set and lot adaptable location. Music videos, films, TV and commercials produced here will compare with anywhere in the world, with some of the best industry practitioners in the world coming together with the world class talent that is in abundance locally, to share knowledge, collaborate, teach and mentor students at the CIA.
There is also a vibrant 10,000 square metres creative industry serviced office structure purpose built as an SME hub and for startups to capture the studio lifestyle associated with the creative industry on this historical grounds. Avoiding the sterility of the typical office environment, the structure is designed to appeal to content creators, transmedia innovators and a new class of creative trendsetters, while providing unparalleled opportunities for collaboration and socialization. Relevant businesses within the CIBP will include the following: Black Heritage City, media companies: CNN, BBC, Reuters, Channels, Bloomberg CNBC, etc
Film and TV production and distribution companies: Ebony Life, BAP, Big Brother Nigeria, ROK TV, HIP Life TV, DSTV. ENDEMOL, NetFLIX, etc. Music roduction companies: Sony, Marvin Records Starboy Worldwide, SPOTIFY, etc. Lighting and grip rental companies; publishing and digital media: News Agency of Nigeria, NAN; Ovation, Forbes; Advertising and Branding: Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria, APCON; advertising and PR /branding companies. TMT companies: Google, Facebook, Samsung, CISCO, MTN, Globacom, Airtel, etc. CGI/Animation Studios, Robotic Engineering/Application Developers Architecture and interior Designers and other creative businesses, Event Management Companies.
Transit Oriented Development, TOD: The Transit Oriented Development, TOD, leverages on the density and the footfall around the NAT Light Rail station to provide a vibrant integrated mixed use development. With an adjacent intermodal transit terminal to the station to facilitate access and egress, the high point of the TOD comprises the formation of the following stretched around a pedestrianised landscaped promenade. Public realm and places for social interaction is celebrated in the overall planning of the Lagos Media and Entertainment City for sustainability.
Retail Entertainment Mall: 75,000 retail entertainment malls designed and programmed in the context of NAT, Iganmu, Lagos. Music strip with bars, lounges and clubs that cater to all African influenced genre of music. Fashion Café with round the clock catwalk of all African influenced international and local design brands.