FG To Spend N600m On National Theatre

A total of N600.39 million was budgeted for the National Arts Theatre in the 2020 Appropriation Bill despite the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers’ Committee obtaining Federal Government’s approval to take over the cultural landmark.

New Telegraph ’s analysis of the 2020 Budget of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture shows that the N600.39 million expenditure comprise total personnel cost of N356.55 million; total overhead of N144.04 million; total recurrent of N500.59 million and total capital of N99.80 million.

A breakdown of some of the figures indicates that salaries and wages are expected to gulp N268.21 million; allowances and social contribution (N88.34 million); allowances (N54.81 million; travels and transport (N18.60 million): electricity charges (N26.35 million) and telephone charges (N1.11 million).

However, the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had announced during the Creative Nigeria Summit in Lagos, on September 30, this year, that the apex bank and the Bankers’ Committee had received the consent of both President Muhammadu Buhari and the Lagos State Government to take over the National Theatre with a view to transforming it into a creative industry park in line with the objectives of their Creative Industries and Financing Initiative (CIFI).

Following their annual retreat in December 2018, the CBN and Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) had announced the setting up of CIFI, which is aimed at supporting start-ups and existing businesses in the creative industry space, as well as the development of a creative industry park across three major cities in the country.

They said the project would be financed with funds from the Agriculture/ Small and Medium Enterprises Equity Investment Scheme (AGSMEEIS) under which lenders are required to set aside on an annual basis, five per cent of their profit after tax for the purpose of supporting SMEs.

Indeed, on October 5, Emefiele and top industry officials, along with the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was also accompanied by senior members of his administration, undertook an inspection tour of the iconic facility which was built primarily for Nigeria’s hosting of the global black Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) in 1977. However, over the years, lack of adequate maintenance negatively impacted the National Theatre, resulting in the facility becoming a shadow of its former self.

Speaking during the inspection tour of the facility, Governor Sanwo-Olu explained that the creative village will become the destination for tourism, entertainment and commerce, thereby creating more jobs and wealth for Nigerians.

He said President Buhari had been gracious to give the go-ahead and turn the national theatre, considered to be a dead asset, into an income-earning state-of-the-art, developed fashion entertainment industry.

“We have worked around this entire land area inhabiting the national edifice called the National Arts 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-income 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 state-of-the-art developed fashion entertainment industry.”

Also speaking at the end of the tour, Emefiele said that when fully developed, the National Theatre had the potential of being much bigger than the Convention Centre in Peru.

He urged workers at the theatre not to panic over the takeover, as a mechanism has been put in place to protect their interests, including securing their jobs.

The CBN Governor disclosed that following the take-off of the pilot scheme of the creative park in Lagos, the Bankers’ Committee intended to set up similar parks in Kano, Port Harcourt or Enugu.

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