Saturday 30 March 2013

National theatre occupants given ‘temporary relocation, not quit notice’

Following the anxiety over news of quit notices given government agencies and private individuals as well as non-governmental organisations located at a section of the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, an official statement appears to have made some clarifications.
National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos
According to Dr Taiwo Oladokun, SA on Media and Publicity to the Hon Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, there are plans by the Federal Government to develop the National Theatre area through what he described as “world class entertainment and recreational facilities”.

He noted that the plans predate the current administration. Affected, according to sources are the National Council for Arts and Culture building (NCAC), National Gallery of Art (NGA)’s Aina Onabolu building, Universal Studios of Artists, the good old Abe Igi (Under the tree sheds) and the entire annex of National Theatre.

While the government agencies such as NCAC and NGA, according to some sources have been served the notices, the non- government occupants were yet to receive any formal notice.  

Oladokun explained the position of government: “Convinced by the merits of the plans and the benefits to be derived by all Nigerians, the Federal Government set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee including the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Ministry of Lands and Housing, Ministry of  Works, Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission, Surveyor-General of the Federation and the Lagos State Government.

“This committee met for several months and developed for the President, a proposal, based on the original master plan of the National Theatre, which the President  approved.   Approval was also obtained  from the President for work to commence on the site through a Public- Private-Partnership arrangement.

“Consequently, the Minister held a meeting with Heads of Agencies and other organizations operating around the National Theatre  and briefed them on details of the project and  the need to vacate the location temporarily for the planned development to take place. 

"For the avoidance of doubt therefore, what was  given to the organizations concerned was not a quit notice but a simple directive to embark on temporary relocation, consequent upon previous communication, pending the completion of the project as they will all be accommodated eventually in line with the masterplan  which Government is determined to implement.

"The envisaged transformation of the National Theatre area is in the interest of all stakeholders. And this requires the support of all.”

In 2007, culture professionals from different associations under a hurriedly formed group converged as Coalition of Nigerian Artists (CONA), and protested the Bureau of Public Enterprise's (BPE) concession of the National Theatre.

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