It remains one of the nations historical and monumental insignia, strategically situated to catch the eyes of the nation. It is one of the best edifice that Africa has ever been proud of, having been built to celebrate the continents rich cultural endowments many years ago.
The National Theatre Iganmu Lagos is one of the World’s best known cultural Centers, having diverted the attention of the World to Nigeria as Africa celebrated its rich culture many years ago. Alas!.. Its image is heading for the coffin, for a final laid to rest as a national treasure. A sad end to a spectacularly created melting pot of Africa and World cultures, dying slowly with its carried on wasted generation.
*On Wednesday, April 3, 2013 The Nation, one of Nigeria’s leading newspapers, reported that the 37-year old National Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos is to be converted into a five-star hotel.
The idea for the building of the National Theatre was initiated by the General Yakubu Gowon administration as Nigeria prepared to host the World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, otherwise called FESTAC ’77. In 1973, the Gowon regime appointed a 29-member Theatre Consultative Committee to advise it on the concept and organizational structure of the theatre.
The contract for construction was signed on April 24, 1973, with Bulgarian construction company, Technoexportsroy, as the main contractors for the building of the complex.
It was the consultative committee that proposed the establishment of a National Theatre, which it also conceived as the home of a national troupe.
The structure of the Nigeria National Theatre is modeled on the Palace of Culture and Sports in Varma, Bulgaria.??The multi-purpose theatre complex covers an area of about 23,000 square meters and stands well over 31 meters tall.
The complex indeed served as a befitting venue for the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC ’77) which Nigeria successfully hosted in January/February of 1977.
Though the complex has continued to house Nigeria’s national troupe, it has suffered a serious reversal of fortunes in recent years, like most public facilities in Nigeria.
Most of the facilities have broken down. For many months at one time, the sprawling complex was in darkness due to lack of electricity supply. The structure was also reported to have been sinking and the roof broken at a time.
For the past ten years, the Federal Government had toyed with the idea of selling off the theatre complex or bringing it under some form of private management.
Some theatre aficionados consider the reported current plans to turn the complex into a five-star hotel as the least attractive of options.
Equally objective is a reported scheme to remake the building into a hospitality complex. ??We learned that several stakeholders in Nigeria’s arts and culture sector have vowed to resist the move forcing the federal minister to deny initial plans to sell the structure a few days after the publication by the Nation newspaper.
They argue that the plan to sell off the multi-purpose National Theatre, which was established for the preservation, presentation and promotion of arts and culture in Nigeria, shows that the President Goodluck Jonathan administration has a deep lack of appreciation of Nigeria’s history.
Some critics of the current move accuse the Minister of Culture, Edem Duke, of seeking to sell off the complex in an underhanded deal. One of the critics alleged that the proposal to sell off the complex was not tabled before the Federal Executive Council for discussion. In addition, he disclosed that a transaction advisor who was appointed without due process has already chosen an investor for the planned controversial transformation of the theatre complex. “They picked an investor who claimed to be working with globally renowned hospitality brand, Marriott,” the source added.