News Analysis

Reviving the National Theatre through CBN Intervention Programme

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 eighteen months, is capable of generating over twenty billion dollars which is about eight trillion naira annually, this is more than what oil will ever contribute to the post-COVID-19 economy.

This is commendable as a means of diversification of the economy aside crude oil which is capable of producing massive employment and shared wealth.

According to Mr. Emefiele, National Art Theatre would create over one million jobs in the next 18 months after the renovation is completed.

Mr Emefiele said this at the official handing over of the edifice to the CBN and the bankers committee by the federal government of Nigeria last month.

While delivering his address at the event, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, said the project was in two phases, phase one will cost seven billion naira, while phase two would cost eighteen billion naira.

Altogether the project is estimated to cost twenty five billion naira.

The minister, who noted that the iconic edifice had not been renovated in forty years added that government cannot fund the renovation work, hence it was ceded to the private sector with a win-win agreement

The National Theatre will be one of the 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 innovative capacity as Nigeria is already a leading force in world music and film.

It is believed that this programme will fare better than earlier efforts to revive the national theatre and the creative industry as a whole.

The CBN boss had on December 14, 2019 disclosed that the bankers’ committee would spend not less than n20 billion on the project, which he added would help to create economic activities around the national theatre and create job opportunities for people, especially the youth.

It is imperative that the CBN and bankers’ committee will mobilize the needed resources and ensure that massive investments in the creative industry on a business and profitable succeed to the benefit of all concerned.

All stakeholders should put necessary machinery in motion to revive the national theatre for effectiveness.

The move is indeed a right step in the right direction but care must be taken in order not to lead to a repeat of the failure associated with the two hundred billion naira which former President Goodluck Jonathan had granted the creative industry in 2014.

Titilayo Kupoliyi.

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