Work Set To Begin On National Theatre Project As Bankers’ Committee Awards Contract Next Month
The Bankers’ Committee has announced that contracts for the rehabilitation of the National Art Theater in Lagos will begin in September.
Herbet Wigwe, the Managing Director of Access Bank said this during a virtual briefing monitored by THE WHISTLER on Thursday.
The announcement was part of the resolution made by the exclusive forum for the chief executives of Nigerian banks and the directors of the different departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Wigwe said, “As a starting point it is just to let the public know that work on the National Theatre has started in earnest and completely and I think maybe I need to step back a little bit to share for those who don’t understand what is going on there and why we chose to work on the national theatre and how far we have gone.”
The CBN and the Banker’s Committee had on February 14, 2021 agreed to support the creative industry through the transformation of the edifice into the Lagos Creative and Entertainment Centre.
To that effect, a Memorandum of Understanding and contract award signing ceremony was organised between the Federal Government, represented by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and the Bankers’ Committee, represented by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele.
The apex bank boss said that the reconstruction and refurbishment of the National theatre as well as the proposed Lagos Creative and Entertainment Centre will be completed in 15 months, with 35,000 and is expected to create 35,000 jobs.
The new facility would provide space, support network, business development and community engagement for the creative, cultural and technology sectors.
Based on the design, a Signature Cluster will consist of a building each for Music, Film, Fashion and Information Technology verticals as a Welcome/Visitor’s Centre, Police and Fire Stations, and structured parking for up to 500 vehicles would be built.
The Access Bank boss explained, “We couldn’t find a better place but to use the National Theatre and I will tell you why the National Theatre.
“First of all, the National theatrr just by its configuration is a place to support creative arts. It is not just Nigeria’s pride, it is Africa’s pride as we all recall. But unfortunately, overtime we could not find a decent place that could host a significant number of people if they are coming to an international convention.
“All of that work is going on. The second module to the National Theater which are the sections like I shared that have to do with music, that have to be with fashion, that have to do with IT. So, now that second phase will start shortly, I think most of the contracts will be awarded sometime in September and we expect that the entire project should be completed.”
According to him, local contractors will be given special consideration during the contract awards.
“The question that came in is whether we are going to give support to local contractors and the answer is a big yes. There is priority to local contractors. The only place where we have to seek other contractors is if there are very specialist skills required,” Wigwe added.
For Stanbic IBTC Bank MD, Wole Adeniyi, the National Theatre would restore Nigeria’s past glory in the continent and boost the economy.
He noted that on completion, the Theatre would boost foreign exchange revenues in the country.
Adeniyi said, “This is also something we discussed and it was fully supported and it is something that will bring back the glory days. The National Theatre used to be a melting point of creativity and melting down of opportunities for the youths.
“We also believe that it will help the youths to actually fulfil their dreams. It will give wings to their dreams whether it is in IT, whether they are in music, whether they are in fashion, the hubs that are going to be created will help them express and unleash themselves.
“In addition to that, rather than people actually traveling out of Nigeria, people will be coming into Nigeria and some of the FX we are looking for, Nigeria will become a tourist destination and will actually attract foreign inflows.”
Oluwatomi Somefun the MD of Unity Bank said the restoration of the National Theater and the construction of facilities around it for the creative industry is a remarkable innovation by the Bankers’ Committee.
“There is no doubt about it that when this is completed, it will be a big boost to the economy, especially the economy of the host state which is Lagos State in terms of the fact that it will create lots of jobs especially for the youths, it will boost tourism,'” she said.