By Adewole Ajao
While dispelling earlier pessimism concerning the fate of the National Theatre in Lagos, Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, Saturday reiterated Federal Government’s determination to rehabilitate the cultural haven and other properties around the country.
Duke made this known in company of the National Theatre General Manager, Mallam Yusuf Kabir, federal controller of works for Lagos, O.O Obikoya, CCECC (China Civil Engineering Construction Company) engineers handling the Lagos Light Rail Project and other industry stakeholders, during a working visit to the National Theatre at Iganmu, Lagos.
“The National Theatre and its surrounding provide the most valuable real estate asset in Nigeria, especially within the Lagos metropolis. We are therefore in dire need for the development of not just the National Theatre but ancillary projects in facilities in leisure, entertainment and shopping to enhance the National Theatre,” Duke said.
“Even as we begin to look at the celebration of Nigeria’s 100 years in another 24 months, the time to address the dilapidation is now. If we do not do it now, it will be a poor reflection of even our national ethos. It is impossible that we’ll stand aside and see such a monumental milestone without an impact on the National Theatre.”
He added that the visit was also inspired by the need to monitor the progress being made by the firm handling a Lagos Light Rail Project that was giving a facelift to the theatre grounds. The minister, after a tour of the premises, noted that it was of paramount important to bring the theatre back to an optimal level given the dawn of the country’s centenary anniversary in 2014, since it was the largest and most prominent property owned by the Federal Government.
On the Marina - Okokomaiko route being handled by the company, Li Bing of the Chinese consortium handling the project, said work was in progress and the company would deliver on it 2013 deadline since most of the needed structures were relatively complete.
The visit ended with a call for private sector support by Duke. According to him, the much-awaited paradigm shift in the sector would be an exercise in futility if the lean resources it had were not augmented via other sources.