LAGOS – The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers Committee have officially taken over the National Theatre in Lagos with the desire to turn it into a Creative Industry Park.
The Park is expected to start with an initial N22 billion fund under its Creative Industry Fund Initiatives (CIFI).
The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, while inspecting the moribund national monument in company of the governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and other members of the Bankers Committee on Saturday, said the Creative Park initiative was borne out of the desire to give Nigerian youths a chance to showcase their talent.
His words: “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 do 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 gifts.
“I can imagine what this place will look like in another two years. Every weekend, there will be something happening and it will boost the tourism potential of Lagos State and Nigeria.
“Nigerians go out to different seminars. I must say this bluntly, there was a time within three months, Nigerian businessmen were going to South Africa to attend almost four seminars because they are saying Nigeria does not have a convention centre.
“This place can stand any world class convention centre you can think about. We thank the Lagos State Government, the Federal Government, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture for giving us the opportunity to come in here to develop it for the good of Nigeria and Nigerians”.
Sanwo-Olu, on his part said, “We have worked around this entire land area abutting the national edifice called the National Art 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-earning asset but I dare say that Mr. President has been gracious to give the go-ahead and turn this dead asset into an income earning fashion and entertainment industry hub.
“What we have gone round 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 around creative hub.
“You can see that infrastructure is available and close by is the Iganmu Rail station that is also currently ongoing and you can see the edifice.
“We have seen 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 youths 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.”
Also part of the inspection, Herbert Wigwe, Chairman of the Body of Bank CEOs, who is also the CEO and Managing Director of Access Bank, said the initiative is in line with the federal government’s vision of lifting 100 million out of poverty.
“The creative village that is being created, definitely, would provide employment for at least a million Nigerians who have skills in music, IT, movies, etc. We are beginning to think of the multiplier effects of this one million direct youths and it may mean that we may have 20 million youths taken out of unemployment and given proper jobs.
“Now, begin to imagine as well what this edifice would mean if we happen to develop the national theatre. We have been to several countries in the continent; none of them have an edifice like this. Now, ours is derelict, but we believe in two years, working under the auspices of the CBN Governor, we would be able to raise the requisite private sector funds to support and gave this centre a proper facelift,” Wigwe said.