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Editorial: When did CBN, Bankers’ Committee develop asset investment arm?

The weekend’s colourful handover of the massive National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos built in 1976 for hosting of FESTAC ’77 under Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, has continued to generate reactions from investment experts.

Weekend and Sunday, July 12, 2020 to be precise, the Federal Government, through the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, handed over the edifice to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Bankers’ Committee, who have promised to commit N25bn for facility upgrade.

The logic of the duo, who had no known or registered arms in charge of turning around dormant assets to gainful usage, under the aegis of the Bankers’ Committee was to spend about N25 billion as initial funding on the development of Nigeria Creative Centre at the National Theatre, Lagos and three other major cities in Nigeria.

Whereas the plans sound good, there are salient questions begging for answers; 1, When did the CBN and Bankers’ Committee become deep pocket investors and was there any bidding process?

2, Have they a registered entity under which to legally undertake the massive redevelopment investment?

3, Have members of the bankers’ committee, who are the managing directors of commercial banks secured their banks’ shareholders permission to invest such amount?

4, What asset development plan did CBN and Bankers’ Committee present to the Federal Government that warranted the hand over, and did the National Assembly put in the know?

5, Was the prevailing BPE Act part of this ‘dashing deal’?

6, What level of synergy and understanding had the creative industry players with the duo of CBN and Bankers’ Committee before now?

7, What is the fate of the original investor, who took possession of the complex during the privatization era?

8, How many film industry stakeholders’ were consulted and what were their advice?

9, How would what happened to National Theatre on Sunday, July 12, 2020, be described in investment or contract law; Is it a sale, lease or concession?

10,When will CBN and Bankers committee unveil their masked investors as both are not investors or run an investment arm?

Just as these questions continue to beg for official answers, one of the takeaways from the CBN Governor, which still needs further clarification include the fact that other cities including Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu are to have similar facility.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had noted that the initiative in Lagos was handover of the National Theatre in Lagos to the Bankers’ Committee for renovation and upgrade.

In attendance at the event were the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare; the CEO, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe; Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, and other top officials of the Lagos State government. Emefiele thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the handing over of the edifice and its adjoining land to the Bankers’ Committee. According to him, by his action, the president has demonstrated that he recognises that a renovated National Theatre and the complementary facilities that will be built along with it will help in unleashing the creative talents of Nigeria’s youths across multiple sectors and in supporting Buhari’s objective of creating new employment opportunities for Nigerians.