Nigeria’s federal government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as well as bank chiefs under the aegis of the Bankers’ Committee on Sunday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to formally commence the renovation of the National Arts Theatre, Lagos.
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Also on Sunday, the Bankers’ Committee and Cappa and D’Alberto Limited, the contractor to handle the project, signed an agreement to commence the first phase of the renovation, which is expected to end in 15 months’ time.
Additionally, in order to ensure that the National Theatre and the adjoining entertainment hubs retain their ambience upon completion, the Ministry of information and the CBN/ Bankers’ Committee have also signed an MoU with a facility manager to manage the building complex.
While Cappa & D’Alberto Limited is the main contractor, the Electrical sub-contractor is Nairda Limited while the mechanical sub-contractor is VACC Limited.
The agreements were signed about seven months after the federal government handed over the facility to the committee.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Sunday said at the signing of the agreements in Lagos that the project showed the commitment of all parties involved towards giving the facility a facelift.
According to him, when completed, the National Theatre would be the number one event centre in Africa.
He said there would also be the development of clusters to support the creative industry.
“Not only will the National Theatre be restored, there would not be a single job loss and more jobs would be created during the construction of the facility,” Mohammed said.
CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who is the Chairman of the Bankers’ Committee, said the idea behind the project, christened ‘Lagos Creative and Entertainment Centre,’ was to restore the glory of the iconic building by aligning most of the fabric, equipment and facilities in the building with the aesthetics of the 21st century and secondly to develop an ecosystem of creative hubs on the adjoining 44-hectare parcel of land.
The new facility would complement and enhance the National Arts Theatre, he said.
According to him, the Bankers’ Committee is funding a prototype cluster located within the National Arts Theatre, a development which we have labelled the ‘Signature Cluster.’
“This facility will be a convenor – providing space, support network, business development and community engagement for the creative, cultural and technology sectors. “The Signature Cluster will consist of a building each for music, film, fashion and information technology verticals. In addition to these, a welcome/visitor’s centre, police and fire stations and structured parking for up to 500 vehicles will be built,“ he added.
Emefiele stated that the 44-hectare site adjourning the National Theatre would be developed and utilised for the development of purpose-built creative hubs for the music, film, fashion and information technology.
He said the aim was to deliver a successful creative and entertainment city that would encourage additional investment into Nigeria’s creative industry.
According to him, the anticipation is that there will be at least 10,000 direct and indirect jobs created during the construction phase and over 25,000 people would be engaged in different sections of the centre when the Signature Cluster is completed, with anticipated multiplier effect of other job opportunities.
“The fashion building is a full-fledged apparel production facility with textile showroom, retail and photography spaces and teaching laboratories
“The music building will house recording studios with all front and back-end spaces and facilities. An amphitheatre has been designed to adjoin the music hub in the master plan.
“The film facility consists of stage set-up areas as well as all back-end spaces necessary for full production of films.
“The information technology facility consists of co-working and co-living spaces, training facilities and indoor and outdoor breakout clusters, all carefully designed to ensure that interface with the creative users is enhanced,” Emefiele added.
He said the Bankers’ Committee embarked on the project because of the rapid growth recorded by the creative sector over the years.
“This project will no doubt bring considerable benefits to all Nigerians, especially the youth who are the reason and inspiration behind this initiative. The tenacity of our youth is highly commendable and admirable and has reflected in the economic returns of the creative industry. Their activities, through the music, film and fashion industry, have also brought global acclaim to Nigeria,” Emefiele said.
He said contract for the second phase of the project would be awarded in the next four weeks, while work would be going on concurrently on different areas of the edifice.
The intention is that before the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure in 2023, the entire project would be completed.
Responding to a question on the cost of the first phase of the project, Emefiele said: “The first phase will cost about N21.3 billion. I have heard criticism from different places that the cost is too expensive. But if anyone is interested, we would make open the bills of quantity so that you will know how painstaking the consultant went in pricing this work.
“We are not afraid of the numbers, come and see and if possible, we would publish the bills of quantity for everyone to see. There is nothing for anybody to hide.”
Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said on completion, the project would lead to a transportation solution, urban regeneration and a total transformation of the neighborhood.