Following the Federal Government’s handing over of the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for creative initiatives capable of generating over $20 billion for the Federal Government, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has promised to help transform the facility to an international asset the citizens can be proud of.
According to Sanwo-Olu, there is no way the nation can join the league of the 21st century economies if it cannot develop its creative industry. “It is about bringing better infrastructure. The creative industry will change the future of Nigeria. It will be a shame to us if we don’t do what we are doing today. Any idea without finance will remain just an idea,” he said.
He added that in the next 22 months, “ we will bringing Mr President here to witness the commission of the transformed National Theatre. It will bring about the regeneration of the entire neighborhood. The areas will witness a new lease of life.We will turn this place to an international asset”, he added.
In his address, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, noted that upon completion the “area would have transformed into Nigeria’s Creative industrial Center which will be comparable to other world class entertainment and convention Centers in any part of the world”, adding that the country “has the potential to earn over $20billion annually from the creative industry.”
His words: “The Creative Center, which comprises Music, Movies, Fashion and ICT can be a key source of growth for our economy creating up to One Million jobs for our teaming Youths. It will also aid our objective of reducing our dependence on revenues from crude oil. India for example in 2018, generated over $240billion from exports of IT, Movies, Music and Fashion related goods and services. This amount is over 5 times our annual earnings from the sale of crude oil. With our human capital resources and an enabling environment that will help harness the creative talents of our youths, Nigeria has the potential to earn over $20billion annually from the creative industry.
“With the growing demand for Nigerian music, movies and fashion, across Africa and in various parts of the globe, our creative industries, are spurring innovation,creating jobs, and helping to shape perceptions of Nigeria, as a nation with a strong spirit of creativity and ingenuity. We must do more to encourage the innovative works of these young talented Nigerians as they can make significant contributions to the growth and development of our country.Second, given our growing population of close to 200 million people, out of which 60 percent are under the age of 35, it is imperative that we strive to create opportunities that will keep our youths engaged, as it would portend great dangers for the progress of our nation if we allow these talents go to waste.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also used the occasion to correct the notion of sale of the structure to the Bankers’ Committee. According to him, “the iconic National Theatre remains a National Heritage and will not be ceded to any person or group as some has chosen to frame what we are doing today. What we are here to do is to hand over the National Theatre for restoration , upgrade and also the 134 hectares of fallow land within the premises to the Central Bank and Banker’s Committee for development. The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture will continue to hold the keys of the National Theatre on behalf of all Nigerians.”
This was as the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for renewing his commitment to providing opportunities for Nigerian youth. He said: “Today’s event is another giant step towards strengthening President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to create opportunities for our teeming youth.