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National Theatre: Workers vacate complex for rehabilitation

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Theatre workers and allied agencies operating inside the main bowl of the National Theatre in Lagos on Friday began to remove their properties, following the dateline given by the Federal Government.

It was reported that the matching order was given to the workers to quit and pave the way for the renovation of the about 45-years old complex.

Recall that the Bankers’ Committee led by the Gov. Godwin Emefiele of the Central Bank (CBN) had on Sunday, Feb. 14, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Federal Government for the handover of the theatre complex.

On July 12, 2020, the Federal Government handed over the complex to the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bankers committee for restoration and development of the 134 hectares of fallow land within the premises.

Our correspondents who visited the main bowl of the complex reports that many of the workers were seen removing their office materials in a frenzy to beat the deadline.

Affected tenant agencies such as the National Gallery of Art and National troupe staff were seen moving their items out of the arena.

Dr Celestine Agoziem, the Head of Documentation and Monitoring at the theatre confirmed the development to our correspondent.

Agoziem, however, complained of the short notice, saying that such a notice should have come earlier to enable proper mobilisation of men and resources for effective movement.

He said, however, that so far, affected agencies have complied substantially with the directive, saying that the hasty and uncoordinated approach being displayed by the staff is a reflection of the short notice.

He commended the government’s policy of giving the theatre a new nomenclature and facelift.

Also, an official of the National Theatre, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, told NAN that contractors were yet to arrive for the renovation works.

“But staff are already moving out in preparation for their arrival.

“People need to vacate the complex so that the contractors can easily access the building.

“That is what is being done presently, for safety reasons.

“You know we have the National Troupe staffs within the complex and they needed to move their things to the Artistes Village nearby,” the officer said.

He added that members of staff would be working from other buildings around the complex pending the completion of the renovation works on the main bowl.

Recall that the Minister for Culture and Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, during the handing over, reiterated that the National Theatre would still remain the nation’s heritage.

Mohammed said that his ministry would continue to hold the keys to the iconic national heritage in spite of the Public-Private Partnership arrangements between the Federal Government and the CBN.

He added that the project will not lead to any job loss but rather create no fewer than 46,000 jobs during the construction phase while the completed project could generate additional 6000 jobs.

Mateen Badru And Millicent Ifeanyinchukwu

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