Emefiele, Sanwo-Olu hopeful that renovation of National Theatre will boost economy, create one million jobs

WorldStage Newsonline– The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in conjunction with the Bankers Committee has said that the National Arts Theatre, when renovated and fully operational, would lead to the build up of a more resilient economy.

The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele said at the official handover ceremony of the facility to the Bankers Committee for renovation on Sunday in Lagos that the handover of the facility to the committee was timely, considering the external headwinds facing the country’s economy at the moment.

Similarly, Lagos Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the revitalisation  is a step toward making the state a 21st Century economy.

According to Emefiele, “The impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and the containment measures that have been put in place to contain the spread of the virus has led to a slowdown in global growth which has also affected the Nigerian economy.

“In addition to the public health challenge, our country is faced with a revenue shock primarily driven by the 40 per cent drop in crude oil prices between January 2020 and now.

“Given our dependence on crude oil as a major source of government revenue, as well as for our foreign exchange earnings, these challenges have served to reinforce the need for stakeholders to promote policies and programs that will enable greater diversification of the Nigerian economy.

“A diversified economy that supports increased productivity in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, while harnessing the talents of our youths in the creative industries, will lead to the buildup of a more resilient economy, that is better able to withstand external shocks, while creating wealth and jobs for our growing population.”

The CBN governor said that the renovation which would be completed in another 18 months, would have transformed the facility into Nigeria’s Creative Industrial Center.

According to him, the centre will be comparable to other world class entertainment and convention Centers in any part of the world.

He said that the centre which would comprise Music, Movies, Fashion and ICT, could be a key source of growth for Nigeria’s economy as it would create one million jobs for our teeming youth.

The apex bank Governor, said that it would aid the country’s objective of reducing dependence on revenues from crude oil.

Emefiele noted that India, in 2018, generated over $240bn from exports of IT, Movies, Music and Fashion related goods and services which amounted to over five times Nigeria’s annual earnings from the sale of crude oil.

He said that Nigeria had the potential to earn over $20 bn annually from the creative industry with its human capital resources and an enabling environment that would harness the creative talents of her youths.

He said that with the growing demand for Nigerian music, movies and fashion, across Africa and in various parts of the globe, it’s creative industries were spurring innovation, creating jobs, and helping to shape perceptions of Nigeria, as a nation with a strong spirit of creativity and ingenuity.

Emefiele said: “We must do more to encourage the innovative works of these young talented Nigerians as they can make significant contributions to the growth and development of our country.

“Secondly, given our growing population of close to 200m people, out of which 60 per cent are under the age of 35, it is imperative that we strive to create opportunities that will keep our youths engaged, as it would portend great dangers for the progress of our nation if we allow these talents go to waste”.

The apex bank governor also said that the “Creative Industries Financing Initiative” which was set up in December 2018, was to support startups and existing businesses across the four pillars, as well as foster the development of a Nigeria Creative Industries Centre in four major cities in Nigeria.

He said that the committee would support the creative venture with about N25 billion of initial funding.

According to him, the facility will serve as the initial pilot for the Nigeria creative industries centre.

He said that following the completion of the renovation works at the theatre, along with the supporting facilities that would be built around it, the committee intended to set up similar Creative Industries centres in Kano, Port Harcourt or Enugu.

Emefiele said that the supporting facilities include a hotel and an expansive conference centre,

He said the committee’s goal for the National Theatre was to create an environment where startups and existing businesses are rewarded for their creativity.

The CBN governor said the theatre would support skills acquisition and job creation for over one million Nigerians over the next five years.

He said: ” These Nigerians will be empowered with funds at single digit interest rate, high level training using state-of-the-art tools, and networks, that will enable them to turn their ideas into a reality.

“When they are able to achieve their objective of creating a new music product, a high-quality movie, an IT software application, or a fashionable outfit, the bankers committee will work to ensure that they are able to distribute their work on a larger scale”.

He said individuals would have the opportunity to showcase their work at the creative industries centre, which would expose them to domestic and external investors.

This, he said, could provide them with additional resources,which would enable production and expansion of their creative works.

He said that the supporting facilities such as retail outlets, hotels, entertainment centres, and an international conference centre would also help to reposition the centre as a viable location for high level international meetings and conventions.

Emefiele thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for handing over the facility to the Bankers Committee, assuring that these skills are harnessed to support the growth of the creative industries, and by extension the growth of the Nigerian economy.

A STEP TOWARD MAKING THE STATE A 21ST CENTURY ECONOMY

Sanwo-Olu said during the handover ceremony of the National Arts Theatre that making Lagos a 21st century economy, was the fourth pillar of his administration’s T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda.

According to him, there is no way the state can be a 21st century economy, if the centre piece called the National Arts Theatre is not revitalised.

”There is no way we will make a 21st century economy if this entire massive real estate and land, that we have are not turned from a dead asset to a living asset.

”It fits with our vision, it fits with our plan, it fits with our thinking of our new Lagos,” he said.

Sanwo-Olu said that the journey of regenerating the National Theatre started about 10 months ago and people misconstrued what the objectives and plans were.

He said that the purpose was not to move people out of job, but to create more jobs and boost the economy.

The governor said that the entire creative industry and Lagos State in particular, would benefit from the revamping of the National Theatre.

”It is exactly 410 days that we all got sworn-in as governor of Lagos State and so we are counting.

”We have agreed and said that in a maximum of 22 months, we will be bringing the president here, to walk him round the new, reformed, revitalised National Arts Theatre and all of the adjoining buildings, while we are still in government, there is no better joy for me personally than that.

”Lagos is a signature, Lagos is a centre piece. We have had good times in the National Theatre and it is time to revitalise it.

”I think it will be a shame on all of us, if we are not doing what we are doing today. If people can think about 40 to 45 years ago and put this edifice here, the least we can do is what we are doing here today, to turn it around, to make it happen for another 40 years of people that are going to come behind us.

”With the regeneration of the National Theatre and its environs, we are writing our tomorrow today,” he noted.

Sanwo-Olu lauded  the President Muhammadu Buhari for giving a very strong backing to the vision of revitalising the National Theatre and all of the development that would  be coming up there in the next couple of years.

He also commended the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele and the Chairman of Banks CEOs, Mr Herbert Wigwe, for pushing the initiative of revamping the economy through the National Theatre.

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