From Uche Usim, Abuja
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele; and the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, have hailed the level of renovation work being carried out at the Lagos Creative & Entertainment Centre (LC&EC), popularly known as the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos; for which N40 billion was earmarked by the Bankers Committee.
They expressed their satisfaction while exchanging views during a high-level inspection of the facility on Sunday, the Project’s Steering Committee, led by its Chairman and CBN Governor, Mr. Emefiele.
According to them, major milestones had been achieved since the project’s commencement on site early in 2021.
The over N40 billion investment committed to the project by the Bankers’ Committee is expected to deliver far-reaching benefits to the Nigerian economy and supports the initiatives of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to grow the creative industry and provide jobs to Nigeria’s youth population.
Since the award of contracts in March 2021, the main and subcontractors and several specialist contractors have followed a rigorous project plan of identifying and saving items of significant historical value and art, stripping away and decommissioning, carrying out integrity assessments, creating new services routes, and remodelling some of the interior spaces including nearly 300 units of conveniences.
Sanwo-Olu, Emefiele, Mohammed and other members of the Steering committee, including the CBN Deputy Governor in charge of Financial System Stability (FSS), Mrs. Aishah Ahmad; the Group Managing Director of Access Bank and Chairman of the Body of Bank CEOs, Herbert Wigwe; and the Managing Director of GT Holding Company, Segun Agbaje, noted that the entire heating, ventilation, air conditioning system, power, water supply and sewage systems were currently being replaced while fire safety standards are being significantly upgraded.
The nearly 3000sqm roof terrace, which had been a major source of leakages, is also currently undergoing repair, while the floors, walls, panels, and ceilings have been stripped back as part of a plan to ensure that all underlying structures are able to support new finishes.
In the 4000-seater main bowl, the new stage infrastructure will deliver future-fit performing arts spaces, for dance, theatre, music, and multimedia, with adjustable acoustics and advanced technical systems, adaptable to the requirements of audiences, artists, and sponsors.
The team also observed that the banquet halls and exhibition spaces as well as the two 500-seater cinemas had been stripped out, with new walls, floor and ceiling finishes being installed.
Recall that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele led members of the Bankers’ Committee to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Federal Government in February 2021, for the handover of the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.
Emefiele, at the MOU signing, had noted that revamping the National Arts Theatre would unlock the creative talents of hundreds of thousands of Nigerian youths in the fields of music, movie production, fashion, and information technology.
The National Arts Theatre, a national monument and Nigeria’s most iconic symbol of arts and culture, is being restored and its facilities are being upgraded to match the best standards of theatre and performance in the world.
The edifice, according to the Bankers’ Committee, will be at the heart of a larger development of hubs that will form an ecosystem of the creative sector – film, fashion, information technology and music, alongside other critical amenities with the ultimate objective of unleashing opportunities for the youth, competence and capacity building and enhancement of the prospects for revenue generation.
The commitment made by the Bankers’ Committee at the end of 2019 was reinforced by the handover of the facility and the adjoining 44-hectare parcel of land. The project is coming to fruition and is supported by the partnership of the Lagos State Government, Federal Ministries of Information & Culture and Youth & Sports Development, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bankers’ Committee.
Restoration of the carefully cataloged in situ and moveable art created nearly 45 years ago by world acclaimed Nigerian pioneer art masters, including the exceptional stained glass works by Prof. Yusuf Grillo, are being carefully restored and protected by a team of local and international art conservators.
An art conservation lab is also being developed to ensure the restoration and archiving of hundreds of objects of historic importance, including vintage audio and video equipment, musical instruments, publications, photographs, and leading design furniture from the 1970’s for museum displays within the sprawling facility.
While inspecting the master plan for the adjoining 44Ha site, which had been concluded, the inspection team was informed that an environmental remediation exercise, along with the Lagos State Government, was also on course with the recently concluded Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Review led by the Federal Ministry of Environment of the 44Ha site. Similarly, the committee was briefed that mitigation plans had been put in place to support the preservation of the natural ecosystem and manage all potential impacts, in line with the project sponsors’ commitment to ensure legacy of sound environmental principles.
According to the project team, sand filling will commence shortly, having identified the areas that will generate the least impact to the environment through site studies (topographical, bathymetric, geotechnical, hydraulic and hydrology) conducted over a 12-month period.
The creative hubs will be built on portions of land within the 44-hectare site. The first phase known as the “Signature Cluster” consists of a building each for Fashion, Music, Film, and IT and support facilities including a 250-car park block, a police station, a fire station, and a visitors’ Welcome Centre which will house commercial and retail facilities, administration & management offices amongst. The tender process for the construction of the buildings and services is being concluded. Nearly 500 piles with depths up to 49metres will be installed by three piling contractors, to support the buildings and new road network within the Signature Cluster.
The second phase, which has been designed as clusters for each of the creatives, is structured in a manner that gives other investors and sponsors the opportunity to participate in the growth of the LC&EC.
The interaction between the hubs, the natural environment, the National Theatre, and the major transport mode of the near-future – the adjoining Lagos Light Rail – has been considered and maximised in the master plan.
The national monument, which was completed in 1976, has Cappa & D’Alberto Limited as the main contractors, while Nairda Limited and VACC Limited are the electrical sub-contractor and mechanical sub-contractor, respectively.