The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the National Arts Theatre handed over to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for rehabilitation, will generate no less than 8000 jobs upon completion.
The minister stated this on Thursday when he featured on the Radio Nigeria live programme, “Politics Nationwide,” monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He said 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.
Mohammed allayed the fears of the management of the national theatre as well as concerned stakeholders that the process might lead to job loss.
He reiterated that, to the contrary, 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.
“The handover of the national theatre to the CBN is one of the many steps by 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 edifice in the country.
“For more than 43 years, there has been really no serious renovation as a result of lack of fund by the government and the edifice is at a sorry state.
“Several attempts to privatise or concession the edifice either before or during my tenure as minister has failed, and the truth of the matter is that 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,” he said.
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 government.
He said 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.
Mohammed said that 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-production 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 government entered into any binding agreement with anybody.
Mohammed commended the ace comedian, Ali Baba led-committee of creative industry stakeholders, for advising the Federal Government on the best way to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on the industry.
“Let me use the opportunity to thank the Ali Baba led-committee for a comprehensive, detailed and well-researched report submitted to government.
“It will guide us on the new steps to take in our efforts to reposition the creative industry,” he said.
The minister added that the report revealed amazing potentials in the creative industry and government would set up a committee for the implementation of the recommendations.