Nigeria: CBN Takes Over National Arts Theatre

1 October 2019

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers Committee, which comprise of chief executives of banks will tomorrow, Wednesday, October 2, 2019 take over the operations of the National Arts Theatre along with 40 acres of land that is being donated by the Lagos state government for a Creative Industry Hub.

This was revealed by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele at the Creative Summit in Lagos yesterday. The National Arts Theatre is a national monument that is listed as an historical tour destination in the country having featured prominently in the FESTAC 77 Cultural festival held in Nigeria.

According to Emefiele, President Muhammadu Buhari had consented to handing over the monument to the Bankers Committee led by the chairman of the Board of Bank CEOs, and managing director of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe.

He said the takeover of the National Arts Theatre is in line with plans to establish creative hubs in major cities across the country as part of its attempt to grow foreign exchange and job creation through the creative industry.He said the banks would be using the five per cent of their profit after tax (PAT) to "support startups and existing businesses in the creative industry space with the development of the creative industry park across three major cities in Nigeria. With the kind support of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Lagos state government, the National Arts Theater, Iganmu in Lagos is expected to serve as the initial pilot for the creative industry park in Nigeria.

"We will develop the 40 acre creative industry park around the NAT including giving the theatre itself tremendous facelift thereby reopening the tourism potential that the NAT offered during the FESTAC 77 arts culture. Those of us who grew up watching cinemas at the NAT could imagine its potential that that edifice presented but today it has become a relic. But with the kind approval of President Buhari, the National Arts Theater has been handed over to the bankers committee and the CBN to redevelop it.

"In addition to that, the Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has allocated a 40 acre land around the National Arts Theater for the development of a creative industry hub first in Lagos. The site will be taken over on Wednesday by the chairman of the board of bank CEOs Mr. Herbert Wigwe. With the development of the pilot scheme in Lagos we intend to set up similar parks in Kano, and Enugu depending on who invites us first.

"As we all know, Nigeria's creative industry, which comprises the music, movie, fashion and IT industries are beginning to emerge as a key source of wealth and job creation in Nigeria. Across Africa and in various parts of the globe, our creative industries, are spurring innovation, creating jobs, increasing our export revenues and helping to shape perceptions on Nigeria, as a nation with a strong spirit of creativity and ingenuity.

"I am delighted each time I visit other countries across the globe and my counterparts indicate how Nigerian movies and music have permeated the social life of citizens in their countries. Indeed, I recall with fond memories visiting a barber store in a country in Europe; and the music being played to the delight of customers were Tiwa Savage, Flavour, and Burna Boy.

"Recently, a friend told me how delighted he was at Selfridges store in London when he heard Davido and WhizKid's songs being played in the mall. The same goes for Nigerian Movies; which today dominates the homes and movie theatres in different parts of the world. Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen, the CBN believes we must do more to encourage the innovative work of these and other young talented Nigerians as it could significantly contribute to the growth and development of our country," Emefiele added.

On his part, the Access Bank MD, Herbert Wigwe stressed the need to ensure that the successes of the Nigerian creative sector is being captured in the formal financial system as well as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) saying the banking industry can only survive if the economy of the country thrives. "Banks need the economy to grow for us to thrive" he stated adding that there is need to create jobs and grow productivity in the Nigerian economy.

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