Sunday 12 July 2020

Today, FG hands over National Arts Theatre to CBN, Bankers' Committee

National Theatre, Lagos. Pic: c/o Translucent S.I.
A major shift in the culture sector took place few hours ago as the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed led the federal government delegation in the handing over of the National Arts Theatre complex, Iganmu, Lagos to the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee.

In attendance, according to sources from the government were the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele; Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare; the CEO, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe; Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, his deputy and other top officials in the state government.

Last year, the Federal Government had disclosed that the National Arts Theatre complex will be handed over to the CBN and Bankers Committee for redevelopment. In their response to the proposed-hand over last year, Jadeas Trust Consortium, managers of the National Arts Theatre, has described the planned takeover by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers' Committee, as a breach of contract.

 “We must transform the National Arts Theatre to its glorious days," as the facility is to be transformed to international standard so that the new look would comprise hub for fashion, music, ICT and will have commercial and retail facilities, among others, Mohammed remarked during the hand over on Sunday. “No one is hijacking the National Theatre, it remains our national heritage.”

 Emefiele commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the handing over of the edifice to the Bankers Committee. “The handover of the National Theatre to the CBN /Bankers Committee is indeed timely when one considers the external headwinds facing our economy today, Emefiele explained. “The impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and the containment measures that have been put in place to contain the spread of the virus, has led to a slowdown in global growth which has also affected the Nigerian economy.

“In addition to the public health challenge, our country is faced with a revenue shock primarily driven by the 40 percent drop in crude oil prices between January 2020 and now.

“Given our dependence on crude oil as a major source of government revenue, as well as for our foreign exchange earnings, these challenges have served to reinforce the need for stakeholders to promote policies and programs that will enable,” he said.

Mohammed argued that the development would not leave anyone at disadvantage and assured workers of job security.

Perhaps, a legal battle may commence if the consortium insists that the handover is a breach of contract. Prince Chris Ogan, a partner in the had argued that FG’s decision breached due process.

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