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CBN, Banks Target 1M Direct Jobs With National Theatre Rehabilitation



The hand over of the National Arts Theatre by the federal and Lagos State governments to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers Committee is projected to boost the tourism and creative sectors, and create over one million direct jobs over the next two years.

This was disclosed yesterday at the handover ceremony of the national edifice by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele; Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. They handed the property over to the managing director of Access Bank Herbert Wigwe.

Emefiele said the idea behind the handover is to build a hub on the over 30 hectares of land around the edifice “for those who want to do fashion, those who are into movies, IT, and entertainment industry, to accommodate them so that they can develop their God given gift.”

He continued,  “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 potentials of Lagos State and Nigeria.

“I must say this bluntly, there was a time within three months, Nigerian business men 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 center you can think about,” he said.

The Lagos State governor, Sanwo-Olu, said “we have come to ascertain for ourselves and to also appreciate the extent of an asset that has been conceived as a non-earning asset.

“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.

“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 teeming 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.”

On his part, Herbert Wigwe who is also the chairman of the Board of Bank CEOs, noted that the rehabilitation of the National Arts Theatre was in line with federal government’s vision of lifting 100 million people out of poverty.

He said, “The creative village that is being created, 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 – one million direct youths – it may mean that we may have 20 million youths taken out and given proper jobs.

“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 give this centre a proper facelift.

“So, today is just an assessment to see what is going on here and what we can create and fine-tune the design, so that actual work can begin.

We are working with a body called SANEF, which is an institution that holds the interest of the entire banking.

“So we, the entire banking industry working with the Lagos State Government and the Federal Ministry of Arts and Culture, to ensure that we give grace to our country within the next two years,” Wigwe added.

The National Arts Theater, along with the 40 acres of land that is being donated by the Lagos State government would be used as a Creative Industry Hub.

The National Arts Theatre is a national monument that is listed as a historical tour destination in the country having featured prominently in the FESTAC 77 Cultural festival held in Nigeria.

Emefiele had on Monday while speaking in Lagos at the Creative Summit in Lagos said, President Muhammadu Buhari had consented to handing over the monument to the Bankers Committee.

He had stated that the takeover of the National Theater was in line with plans to establish creative hubs in major cities across the country as part of federal government’s plan to grow foreign exchange and job creation through the creative industry.

The banks are expected to donate five per cent of their profit after tax (PAT) to “support startups and existing businesses in the creative industry space with the development of the creative industry park across three major cities in Nigeria. The National Arts Theater, Iganmu in Lagos is expected to serve as the initial pilot for the creative industry park in Nigeria.

The banks will use their donation to develop the 40 acres creative industry park around the National Arts Theatre.