The federal government has given approval to the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bankers Committee to reconstruct the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, into a world-class convention center.
The development is meant to boost the growth of the creative sector in diverse areas like entertainment, movie, music, fashion, and ICT.
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo Olu, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the handover ceremony, explained that the creative village will become the destination for tourism, entertainment and commerce, thereby creating more jobs and wealth for Nigerians.
After an inspection tour of the facility, Governor Sanwo Olu urged the Bankers Committee and the development partners to try and redeem the land surrounding the center.
Governor Sanwo Olu said the President had been gracious to give the go-ahead and turn the national theatre, considered to be a dead asset, into an income-earning state-of-the-art, developed fashion entertainment industry. He said,
“We have worked around this entire land area inhabiting the national edifice called the National Arts Theatre. What we have come to ascertain for ourselves is to also appreciate the extent of an asset that has been conceived as a non-income earning asset, but I there say that Mr. President has been gracious to give the go ahead and turn this dead asset into an income-earning state of the art developed fashion entertainment industry.
“What we have gone around to ascertain for ourselves is the piece of land measuring in excess of about 30 hectares which currently as you can see is all swamp and is all grown within the heart of Lagos.
“What we have come to see is for us to be able to give the go-ahead, working with all of the other stakeholders and our development partners which is led by no other person of the governor of the central bank himself, who are putting investments together to be able to do a first of its type entertainment, fashion, music, technology, movies and an all-round creative hub.”
“We have gone round and it is to see how we can make this place a tourism destination for the future, an entertainment destination for the future and a technology destination for the future where the teaming youth of Nigeria can come and exhibit all their God-given skills and talent and even be able to bring up new ones and turn it into a hub where all of us as Nigerians can be truly proud of.
“So, I’m excited and happy about the kind of field we have seen here today just so we can start the regeneration of this whole area and that is why we are here. And if we have the chance to also touch the national art theatre whilst doing that, so be it but the first point of call is to develop the land surrounding this whole place,” he added.
Receiving the Edifice on behalf of the Bankers Committee and development partners, the Governor, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed that when fully developed, the edifice would be 10 times the size of the Convention Center in Peru.
Emefiele who commended President Buhari for his foresight in transforming the National Arts Theatre into a high revenue-generating hub stressed that under the CBN Creative Industry Financing Initiative, a hub would be built around the edifice to accommodate talented youths so that they can develop their God-given gifts.
He urged workers at the theatre not to panic over the takeover, as a mechanism has been put in place to protect their interests including securing their jobs. He said,
“About three years ago we were at Peru and I can tell you that if this is developed, this asset will be ten times the kind of convention centre that we saw in Peru, and that is the reason we said that the youth need a chance.
“We need to give the youths of this country a chance. That is why under our Creative Industry Financing Initiative we said, for those who want to so fashion, those who are into movie, IT, and entertainment industry, we will build a hub around this art theatre edifice to accommodate them so that they can develop their God-given gift.
“I can imagine what this place will look like in another two years. Every weekend if there will be something happening, it will boost the tourism potential of Lagos state and Nigeria.”