Findings have revealed that the 37-year-old National Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos Mainland is to be converted into a five-star hotel. Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation Edem Duke has given a two-week quit notice to Federal Government agencies at the facility.
Some of the agencies are National Council for Arts and Culture; Nigeria Gallery of Arts; National Troupe of Nigeria and an unnamed agency. Some stakeholders have however rejected the plan, especially the sudden quit notice given to the agencies.
The stakeholders are saying the Federal Executive Council did not approve the proposal and that a transaction advisor was appointed without due process.Other stakeholders also see the plan as an attempt to short-change the Southwest. The theatre was inaugurated on September 30, 1976 by the then Military Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo.
It was opened five months before the hosting of the 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC ’77) in January/February 1977. The Federal Government unfolded its plan through a March 18 letter the Minister sent to some agencies, including those that had been directed to leave the edifice.
Before the letter, it was gathered that the minister did not brief chief executives of the parastatals under him on the government’s plan. But the two-week quit notice aroused the stakeholders’ curiousity about the project. Sources say, an investor from Niger Delta has been linked to the project which may be executed with the Marriot Hotel Group. Although the government is hiding under the guise of expanding infrastructure at the National Theatre, most stakeholders are said to have got more information on the deal.
The minster’s letter reads: “The President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, has approved the development of the National Theatre Land in accordance with the original Masterplan with infrastructures(sic) which include, but not limited to a Five-Star Hotel, Shopping Mall, Multi-Level Car Park, Land and Water Restaurant, offices.