The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the partnership between the Federal Government and Lagos State Government on the renovation of the National Theatre will breathe life into the national edifice. Speaking after an inspection tour of the National Theatre in Lagos last Saturday, ahead of the renovation to be carried out by Lagos State, the minister described the theatre as a valuable national asset that cannot be allowed to become derelict.
According to him: “We are here today (Saturday) to take physical stock of what the Lagos State Government has offered to help us with – that is the rehabilitation of the National Theatre. 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 Lagos State, especially as the state turns 50 this year.”
Mohammed continued, “With the hand of friendship that the Lagos State 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@50 celebration. The National Theatre is an asset we can boast of, and what we need to do is to bring it back to a working condition.”
Mohammed promised that after the renovation, the national edifice would not be allowed to go into a state of disrepair again.
“I know that the question on the lips of many people is that what happens after the renovation. But 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.”
The minister said Lagos State would benefit massively from the renovation of the theatre, ‘’because it is going to give the necessary impetus to the creative industry.”
In a related development, Mohammed, who also visited the demolished 190-year old Brazilian-style building known as Olojo Bar, said the Federal Government would not tolerate the destruction of national monuments anywhere in the country for whatever reason. Mohammed gave the assurance when he visited the site of a national monument on Sunday.
The building, which was acquired and gazetted, as a national monument by the Federal Government in 1956, was destroyed by some developers. The Federal Government and the developers have since instituted cases in court over the property.
According to Mohammed, “Because they wanted to develop this place, they have broken so many laws. Fortunately, this is a country of laws and we are ready to meet them in court and one thing I can assure you is that nobody can benefit from his own crime. I want to assure you that we will challenge them in court and we are going to get our reliefs and we will restore this building to its formal glory. We have the picture; we will rebuild it.”
Alhaji Mohammed said the monument, built by returnee slaves from Brazil, is unique because it chronicles the historical, cultural and social relationship between Nigeria and Brazil.