THE good times may just be ahead for our long-suffering creative industry, as President Muhammadu Buhari has formally handed over the National Theatre Complex, Iganmu Lagos, to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Bankers Committee for restoration and redevelopment.
According to the Governor of CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the scope of the intended project, which will be completed within 18 months, is capable of generating over $20 billion (about N8trn) annually. That is more than oil will ever contribute to our post-COVID-19 economy.
That is part of the diversification of the economy we have been clamouring for but unable to actualise over the decades. More than crude oil, the massive number of job creation and shared wealth this is capable of generating is mind-boggling.
According to Emefiele, the National Theatre will only be one of three legs of the project which will also have hubs in Kano and Port Harcourt. It will directly benefit sub-sectors such as information and communication technology, music, fashion and film.
These are areas that Nigerian youths have shown uncanny innovative capacity. Nigeria is already a leading force in world music and film. The expected boost that the industry will receive will put away the many technological and funding deficits hampering our Nollywood.
We hope, however, that this will not lead to a repeat of the failure associated with the N200bn which former President Goodluck Jonathan had granted the creative industry in 2014. The Federal Government should find out what happened to that grant and bring those who have questions to answer to account.
We are hopeful that this programme will fare better than earlier efforts to revive the National Theatre and the creative industry as a whole. The current CBN Governor, Emefiele, has positioned himself as a solid pillar of the Buhari administration.
Together with the Bankers’ Committee which he chairs, he has been able to promote active lending to agriculture in Nigeria through the Anchor Borrowers’ programme and the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, NIRSAL.
The CBN is also partnering with the Nigerian Postal Service, NIPOST, in efforts to convert NIPOST branches to micro-finance banks, boost lending at the grassroots and bring the rural economies on board.
We are convinced that the CBN and Bankers’ Committee can mobilise the needed resources and ensure that massive investments in the creative industry on a business and profitable model will succeed to the benefit of all concerned.
While we commend the Federal and Lagos State governments for facilitating this project, we call on stakeholders who have forever opposed every effort to revive the National Theatre to cooperate for its success.
Every possible effort should be made to carry everyone along. Above all, we want to see positive results.