By McJohn Odido
The Bankers’ Committee appears less excited about the take over of the National Theatre than it was just over two months ago.
The men and ladies in overall, jackboot and helmet who inspected the edifice for repairs and who went round the fallow land days after the handover have not showed up now for weeks.
In fact, they stopped showing up all through the time there was a court hearing-weeks after the hand over- and they have not returned.
The Nigerian government handed over the National Theatre and its sprawling surrounds, to the Bankers’ Committee and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on July 11, in a transaction in which the Committee pledged to revamp the dilapidated edifice by investing ₦25Billion to reconstruct the 43-year structure, in phases. The plan was to develop the sprawling fallow land surrounding the building into a Creative Hub, featuring a film studio complex, Children’s Park, Hotels and Shopping Malls and overhaul the facilities within the main complex itself: two 700 seater cinema halls, an art gallery, a 5,000 seat Main Hall, a 1,500 seat Conference Banquet Hall, two main Exhibition Halls (1,200 seats) and the VIP Lounge (300 seats).
The lull in activity, after the euphoria of takeover, has spurred theories about objections to President Buhari on the handover by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
Officials of the Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism, speaking on grounds of anonymity because they were not cleared to talk, disclosed to Bookartville.com that “the ICRC and BPE have sent memos to the President complaining they were bypassed in the handing over process, with the BPE clearly noting that a transaction was underway between the Federal Government and the some parties, which has now been challenged by the handover.
But Bookarrville.com can confirm that officially, ICRC has no objection to the Bankers Committee’s takeover of the National Theatre.
“Whatever the President has decided we have to work with it”, says a top management staff of the ICRC. “The President is empowered to do what he did”.
So, the lull in activity may have been because the committee was trying to get a grip on the facility overhaul and new construction. One key area is the equity holding by the banks in the Special Purpose Vehicle that they hope to use to execute the project.
President Buhari, only two weeks ago, approved a unit under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to handle infrastructure development and it is possible that the unit was proposed to take care of ventures such as this by the bankers committee.
McJohn Odido is an intern at bookartville.com