By Rotimi Ijikanmi
The Federal Government has clarified that it is not re-naming the entire Lagos National Theatre complex, built in 1976 to host the 1977 Festival of Arts, popularly known as FESTAC.
The government clarified that it is merely renaming the complex housing the edifice.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the complex housing the National Theatre would be known as Lagos Creative and Entertainment Centre, with four creative hubs and other facilities currently under construction.
Mohammed made the clarification when he featured on “Good Morning Nigeria’’, a live programme on the Nigerian Television Authority, monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.
“The controversy on the re-naming of the National Theatre is just a storm in a tea cup.
“What we said in Spain was that there are lots of developmental projects going on within the National Theatre complex.
“You have the National Theatre fully refurbished and renovated, you also have four hubs each for music, fashion, IT and film. You cannot call all of them National Theatre again.
“The entire complex is what will be known as the Lagos Creative and Entertainment Centre, comprising the National Theatre and the four hubs.’’
Mohammed said the hubs were being built to provide capacity in the creative sectors.
According to him, the music hub and the film hub will be respectively built and equipped with latest technology for recording and processing music and films.
He said it would forestall Nigerian artists and film makers from going outside the country like South Africa and other places to record, process and package their music or films.
In addition to the national theatre monument and the new four hubs, the minister said a modern police station, fire station and 500 capacity car park were also being constructed in the complex.
The minister expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the enabling environment for investment of 100 million dollars by the Bankers Committee, led by the Central Bank of Nigeria on the project.
“Regrettably, the National Theatre which was built in 1976 has been in a state of disrepair for decades without any form of renovation or proper maintenance.
“I want to express our gratitude to the Bankers Committee because there was no way we would have funded this with our budget allocation
“The donation of the 100 million-dollar investment in renovating the edifice and in developing the creative industry is an achievement of this administration.’’
Mohammed also thanked the Lagos State Government for its invaluable contributions in making the dream possible.
According to him, the Lagos State Government is investing a lot of money in the reclamation and dredging of the surrounding area which is by the lagoon.
He said the Lagos State Government was working with experts and the Federal Ministry of Environment to restore the Ebute-Metta creek so that water within the wetland would be clean for restoration of the flora and fauna in the area.
The minister added that the state was extending the blue rail line to have a terminal at the complex to ease traffic from and into the National Theatre and the hubs.
He expressed his optimism that the National Theatre renovation project, the construction of the hubs and other facilities in the complex would be ready by November for the hosting of the first Global Conference on Cultural Tourism and Creative Industry.
On April 19 in Madrid, Spain, the minister signed a hosting agreement for the global conference with the Secretary-General of United Nations World Tourism Organisation, Mr Zurab Pololikashvili.
The conference which would hold from Nov. 14 to Nov. 17 is expected to re-position the creative industry as the engine of growth not just for Nigeria or Africa but for all countries of the world. (NAN)