- There are mixed reactions among the staff of the National Theatre, Lagos, over the selling and leasing of the government's property on the premises
- Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture, reportedly warned against ceding out of any property belonging to the federal government
- The report, however, revealed that the management of the national theatre had sold some valuable items and leased some portion of the land to a private business owner
Orile-Iganmu, Lagos - Despite the warning by the federal government that any portion of the national heritage in the country should not be ceded out to any person or group, the management of the national theatre, Lagos, has reportedly leased out a portion of land within the premises to a private business owner.
Legit.ng reports that during the commencement of the first phase of the reconstruction of the national theatre, the minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, made the government's position on the heritage known to all the stakeholders.
National Theatre Lagos remains a national heritage
Speaking at the official handing over ceremony of the edifice to the CBN bankers’ committee, Lai Mohammed stated that the national theatre remains a national heritage and that it should not be ceded to any person or group.
“Please permit me to start off by making a clarification, this iconic national theatre remains a national heritage and will not be ceded to any person or group, as some have chosen to frame what we are doing here today.
“What we are here to do is to hand over the national theatre for restoration and upgrade and the fallow land within the premises to the Central Bank and the bankers’ committee for development. The federal ministry of information and culture holds the keys to the national theatre on behalf of all Nigerians.”
It was gathered that in contravention to the minister's directive, the management of the national theatre led by its managing director, Prof. Sunday Ododo, as contained in a Memorandum of Understanding dated January 15, 2021, conceded 8,004 square meters of land on lease to Adewaxs Global Ventures for three years.
It was also alleged that the management of the national heritage sold off other valuable items of the parastatal.
Speaking on the development, one of the staff of the parastatal, who pleaded anonymity, lamented about the gloomy state of affairs at the national theatre in the last six months.
According to him, there is hardly any week the management would not lead truckload of valuable items and appliances out of the premises.
“Since the expiration of the two weeks’ notice given to us by the contractor to move our property out of the main bowl, we have been seeing different sizes of truck loading air-conditional, electricity transformers, cables and other valuable moving out of the premises. They have looted the store and sold the cable in it to buyers.
"If the government decides to sell any of these items, there are procedures to be followed but this is not the case. They drive in trucks, load the items and then drive off.
He added that the management has leased the Ijora end of the theatre to a private company to be used as a truck parking bay, adding that many staff believe that this act would further expose workers, visitors and traders to more danger and attack by hoodlums and miscreants.
The items allegedly sold by the management, according to him, included newly installed 1500kva transformer, galvanized Air Handling Units (AHU) ducts of more than 97 units, 11 air condensing units, 800 tons centrifugal chillers, 20 tons truck of armored cables, truckload of galvanized pipes, accidented Prado Jeep, 2000 black imported plastic chairs and 400 black imported tables.
Reacting to the allegations of lease of space and sales of property, Prof. Ododo in a recent interview said his mandate is to run the national theatre as a business enterprise.
“I don’t know where the allegation of sales of property is coming from. When the facelift was to commence, we were given two weeks to move our property out of the main bowl. And in the process of doing, unexpected could happen."
The Guardian also reports that Prof. Idodo disclosed that he just renewed the lease between the National Theatre and CCECC for another three years in January, adding that he had the board's approval to look into how they can develop the land.
“We are going to build a five-star hotel here, shopping mall, banking hall, medical facilities, National Theatre Academy. These are the things we put forward and we have had the blessing of the board. We are looking into how we can get partners."
EFCC says former minister of petroleum resources embezzles N15billion
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, said a former minister of petroleum, Diezani Madueke, was the individual who allegedly laundered N15.2 billion ($37m).
It was reported that Bawa made the disclosure on Thursday, June 17, in Abuja when clarifying an earlier statement that the EFCC was prosecuting a minister for laundering funds through real estate.
The EFCC boss, however, previously did not state the identity of the suspect or whether she is a current or former minister.