You Cannot Sell National Theatre, Reps Committee Tells FG

Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Culture and Tourism have opposed the proposed plan by the Federal Government to sell the National Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos State.

The lawmakers on Monday insisted that the national asset cannot be sold as it remains a national monument.

They made their position known during an interactive session between the committee and the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

Chairman House Committee on Culture and Tourism, Representative Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama said selling the national edifice is not in the best interest of the citizens of the country.

“There are two issues that are not budget-related that we require you and the Minister to look into as a matter of urgency. I am sure that you received the resolution of the House about the proposed plan to sell the National Theatre as part of our National Assets. We cannot sell National Theater.

“As the representative of the people, we will stand for Nigerians to any level within the powers of the law to ensure that it is not sold. I want you to please, look at it,” Ogbeide-Ihama said.

He argued that the culture and tourism sector can provide the enabling environment for skill acquisition and employment opportunities for Nigerian youths aside boosting the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Ogbeide-Ihama said the spate of clashes among ethnic groups in the country would be drastically reduced if Nigerians are given the opportunities to appreciate the festivals, carnivals and cultural practices that abound in the country.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Culture and Tourism then urged the Minister to prevail on the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to provide funds for the development of the sector. He assured that he would reciprocate the gesture by pushing for adequate budgetary approval for the sector.

The Committee Chairman also expresses concern over the ‘neglect’ of the culture and tourism sector arguing that the sector can easily provide employment opportunities for the teeming population of youths and boost the gross domestic product of the country.

 

Why The National Theatre Must Not Be Concessioned

The news making the rounds about the federal government’s plan to concession the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos cannot be said to be a palatable one. And if the news is true, then such a plan must be resisted by all patriotic Nigerians. To conceive the idea of concessioning a national monument of that importance is, to me, most unpatriotic and an insult to the sensibility of Nigerians. I hold this opinion much because such a plan is nothing, but a plot to sell another valuable asset of this nation through the back door to those who brought our country to this morass by their kleptomaniac attitude.

The fundamental question to ask here is: what could be the reasons for the government to want to give up such a valuable asset to concessionaires? It could be argued though, that the National Theatre has lost its past glory, this is not peculiar to the Theatre alone. Just like most of our national institutions, it has not been living up to expectations in the recent years. But there’s an obvious reason for this and is not far-fetched. The cankerworm of corruption which has been the bane of our society is a factor responsible for the doldrums in which the Theatre has found itself. However, to conceive the idea of concessioning or selling it off is not the solution. The solution is to fight the disease that has made it near moribund. And this task is not beyond the capacity of the new leadership of the Theatre headed by that seasoned, committed cultural scholar and renowned artist, Comrade Tar Ukoh, who, since he came on Board, has demonstrated the capacity to rebuild the institution.

Those familiar with his antecedents cannot deny the fact that Comrade Ukoh – as the new Artistic Director/CEO of the National Theatre – has what it takes to lift the place out of its present parlous state and return it to its past glory.  Whatever argument the government may want to advance as the reason for wanting to concession this institution cannot in any way be plausible enough to take this step, as throwing away the baby with the bath water would be grossly unwise, while cutting off the head would be suicidal in looking for solution for the headache. Thus, to conceive the idea of concessioning the Theatre, especially now that it has worn a new garment of responsible leadership,  armed with the vision and competence to reposition it, doesn’t augur well in the interest of our nation.

Since coming on Board as the new Artistic Director/CEO Comrade Ukoh has shown a committed effort at fighting the monsters of corruption, mismanagement of resources and poorly motivated staff all which have brought the Theatre to its present undignifying state. At the National Theatre now, the mantra is “Corruption Must Fall”. Conspicuously hung on the wall at the entrance of the Theatre is a banner that reads “Culture Must Kill Corruption, Before Corruption Kills Culture”. This new spirit at the National Theatre is in tandem with the anti-corruption ideology of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. And it’s not just a mere sloganeering, the new leadership of the institution is visibly walking the talk, as we heard in the news sometimes in November, 2017 that some Directors of the Theatre were quizzed by the EFCC last over allegations of corruption. This shows that a man with zero tolerance for corruption, who is sincerely committed to reviving this national asset and restoring its past glory, is now at the helms of its affairs. For me this is a commendable step that deserves to be applauded by every patriotic Nigerian.

In the light of the above, the government should do away with the thought of concessioning this institution. The government needs to reflect on the admonition of that great Romanian philosopher and essayist, Emil Cioran, that; “Each concession we make is accompanied by inner diminution of which we are not immediately conscious”. Should the government refuse to heed this warning, then, patriots of our land must rise against any attempt to carry out this plot. For, with its new responsible, visionary and transparent leadership, this institution is already set on the path of revival.

Why The National Theatre Must Not Be Concessioned

By Kola Odepeju

The news making the rounds about the federal government’s plan to concession the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos cannot be said to be a palatable one. And if the news is true, then such a plan must be resisted by all patriotic Nigerians. To conceive the idea of concessioning a national monument of that importance is, to me, most unpatriotic and an insult to the sensibility of Nigerians.

I hold this opinion much because such a plan is nothing, but a plot to sell another valuable asset of this nation through the back door to those who brought our country to this morass by their kleptomaniac attitude.

The fundamental question to ask here is: what could be the reasons for the government to want to give up such a valuable asset to concessionaires? It could be argued though, that the National Theatre has lost its past glory, this is not peculiar to the Theatre alone. Just like most of our national institutions, it has not been living up to expectations in the recent years. But there’s an obvious reason for this and is not far-fetched. The cankerworm of corruption which has been the bane of our society is a factor responsible for the doldrums in which the Theatre has found itself. However, to conceive the idea of concessioning or selling it off is not the solution. The solution is to fight the disease that has made it near moribund. And this task is not beyond the capacity of the new leadership of the Theatre headed by that seasoned, committed cultural scholar and renowned artist, Comrade Tar Ukoh, who, since he came on Board, has demonstrated the capacity to rebuild the institution.

Those familiar with his antecedents cannot deny the fact that Comrade Ukoh – as the new Artistic Director/CEO of the National Theatre – has what it takes to lift the place out of its present parlous state and return it to its past glory. Whatever argument the government may want to advance as the reason for wanting to concession this institution cannot in any way be plausible enough to take this step, as throwing away the baby with the bath water would be grossly unwise, while cutting off the head would be suicidal in looking for solution for the headache. Thus, to conceive the idea of concessioning the Theatre, especially now that it has worn a new garment of responsible leadership, armed with the vision and competence to reposition it, doesn’t augur well in the interest of our nation.

Since coming on Board as the new Artistic Director/CEO Comrade Ukoh has shown a committed effort at fighting the monsters of corruption, mismanagement of resources and poorly motivated staff all which have brought the Theatre to its present undignifying state. At the National Theatre now, the mantra is “Corruption Must Fall”. Conspicuously hung on the wall at the entrance of the Theatre is a banner that reads “Culture Must Kill Corruption, Before Corruption Kills Culture”. This new spirit at the National Theatre is in tandem with the anti-corruption ideology of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

And it’s not just a mere sloganeering, the new leadership of the institution is visibly walking the talk, as we heard in the news sometimes in November, 2017 that some Directors of the Theatre were quizzed by the EFCC last over allegations of corruption. This shows that a man with zero tolerance for corruption, who is sincerely committed to reviving this national asset and restoring its past glory, is now at the helms of its affairs. For me this is a commendable step that deserves to be applauded by every patriotic Nigerian.

In the light of the above, the government should do away with the thought of concessioning this institution. The government needs to reflect on the admonition of that great Romanian philosopher and essayist, Emil Cioran, that; “Each concession we make is accompanied by inner diminution of which we are not immediately conscious”. Should the government refuse to heed this warning, then, patriots of our land must rise against any attempt to carry out this plot. For, with its new responsible, visionary and transparent leadership, this institution is already set on the path of revival.

National Theatre Not For Sale: Mohammed

The Federal Government has no plans to sell the National Arts Theatre to the Lagos State Government, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said.

Mohammed made this known on Tuesday night at a dinner with Nigerian TV and online content developers attending the ongoing MIPTV in Cannes, France.

MIPTV is an annual  TV and online content development event and the largest global distribution television and digital content market.

The minister who described the Arts Theatre as a national monument, stressed that it was impossible for anyone to sell any asset of government without following the due process and clear cut rules.

He explained that the Lagos government offered to renovate the main bowl of the theatre, two cinema halls, the exhibition lobby and the banquet hall as part of its collaboration with the federal government.

“I want to say it loud and clear that there is no iota of truth in the rumour that we are selling the national theatre to the Lagos state government.

“We do not have the capacity to do so and will never do so.

“What is happening is that we are fortunate to have a governor like Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos who is very passionate about the creative industry.

“The governor decided that he is going to mark the 50th anniversary of Lagos with cultural activities, films, music and he was looking for a befitting venue.

“He now decided to take the opportunity of this 50th anniversary to collaborate with the federal government to revamp the national theatre to use it as a venue for most of the programmes and at the same time laid the foundation for a viral and dynamic creative industry,’’ he said.

The minister noted that the whole essence of the collaboration for the renovation of the theatre is to ensure that the national asset did not go into ruins.

“The governor is asking for nothing, rather he is foresighted in knowing that a renovated and functional national theatre will be a catalyst for the film industry, theatre art, music.

“He also realised that by revamping the theatre, more young men and women will be able to exhibit their talents and more jobs will be created and more taxes will accrue to Lagos state purse.

“Therefore, for everybody it is a win-win situation and there is no attempt whatsoever to sell any national asset to anybody,’’ he said

NAN reports that the dinner was hosted by the Director General of National Broadcasting Commission, Modibbo Kawu.

Some of the TV and online content developers at the dinner were, Mr Tajudeen Adepetu the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Soundcity, ONTVand ONMAX, Mr Jason Njoku the CEO of Iroko TV and Ijeoma Onah of Aforevo TV, a French Nollywood Channel.