By Henry Akubuiro
The partnership between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Lagos State on the renovation of the National Theatre, said the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, would bolster the national edifice.
The minister, who made the remark during an inspection tour of the National Theatre in Lagos on Saturday, in the lead up to the renovation to be done by Lagos State, described the theatre as a valuable national asset that cannot be allowed to become derelict.
He said: ‘’I want to use the opportunity to express my gratitude and that of the federal government to the governor, the government and the people of Lagos State, who have graciously offered to assist to renovate the main bowl of the National Theatre, two cinema halls, the exhibition lobby and the banquet hall as part of the collaboration between the federal government and the state, especially as the state turns 50 this year,’’ he said.
Alhaji Mohammed added: “With the hand of friendship that the Lagos Government has extended to us, we are very hopeful that we are going to get the main bowl, two cinema halls, the exhibition lobby and the banquet hall renovated and ready for the Lagos at 50 celebration.’’
After the renovation, the minister promised that the edifice would not be allowed to go into a state of disrepair again.
“I want to assure Nigerians that it cannot be business as usual. The National Theatre now has a new management that is in tune with reality, and we will simply not allow the National Theatre to degenerate to the level we met it today,’’ he said, adding that it would add impetus to the creative industry.
Similarly, the minister has promised that the Federal Government wouldn’t tolerate the destruction of national monuments anywhere in the country. He spoke during a visit to the 190-year-old Brazilian style building in Lagos, another national monument, last Sunday.
The building, which was acquired and gazetted as a national monument by the federal government in 1956, was destroyed by some developers, leading to the prosecution of the matter in court by both parties over the property.
Alhaji Mohammed said the monument, built by returnee slaves from Brazil, was unique because it chronicled the historical, cultural and social relationship between Nigeria and Brazil.
“It is like a living monument of our (slave trade) past. It was a monument that exhibited the Brazilian architecture at that time, which is rare to come by anywhere in the world. It is a remembrance of what our ancestors went through in slavery and how they triumphed, came back and showed that they were well-to-do. The important thing is that a people without history will perish very fast. This building was worth billions of dollars because it symbolised our past.”
He assured that the federal government would pursue whoever has destroyed the monument: ‘’It may take time, but the hand of the law is long and the wheel of justice grinds slowly but surely,’’ he said.