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Nigerian govt assures National Theatre staff of job safety during 15-month renovation period

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The Federal Government has assured the management and staff of the National Theatre in Lagos that there would be no job losses in the establishment within the 15-month renovation deadline and beyond, as it has no plan to disengage any employee.

Specifically, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this on Monday in Lagos, at a meeting with the management and union leaders of the National Theatre.

However, Mohammed said the National Theatre would be run by a competent management team to be known as Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for a period of 21 years after the renovation.

Recall that on Feb. 14, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria/Bankers Committee for the revamp and restoration of the National Theatre.

Also signed was an N22 billion contract awards for the revamping of the National Theatre as well as the creation of creative and fashion hubs within the premises, which will be linked with the Lagos Blue Rail line.

Mohammed said the bankers’ committee funded the project, noting that the project would be delivered in 15 months under the committee’s statutory corporate social responsibility programme, which is not for profit-making.

“The highlight of the MoU is that the CBN and the Bankers Committee will invest the initial sum of N22 billion to renovate and upgrade the national theatre and they will deliver it in 15 months.
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“Although, they are funding the project under corporate social responsibility, they are also going to be responsible and accountable for the money. Therefore, after renovation, the National Theatre will be run by a competent management team for a period of 21 years.

“This development will not lead to any loss of job rather it will enhance the performance of the workers. Salaries will be paid as and when due, your promotion, career progression, job security and entitlements are all guaranteed under the arrangement. I see this as a win-win situation because the Federal Government does not have the fund to maintain or renovate the edifice,’’ he said.

The minister said the MoU is structured in such a way that the ministry and the bankers’ committee would provide two representatives each in the management team.

He said he had nominated the General Manager/CEO of the National Theatre, Prof. Sunday Ododo, as a member of the team to protect the interest of the workers.

When asked whether the government would not renege on its promises as it did with the PHCN workers who were disengaged after the privatisation of the power sector in 2013, Mohammed said the scenario is completely different as the government is not privatising the National Theatre as it was done to PHCN.

“Under the CBN Act, every bank pays a percentage of its profit yearly in a pool and they decide what they will use the money for. Sometimes, they build hospitals, roads, or go to orphanages, but this year they decided to invest in the creative industry.

“The project is under corporate social responsibility and not privatisation. Besides, you are on the payroll of the government, not the SPV, so you will not be disengaged or owe salaries. I seek for your cooperation to allow the contractors do their jobs,’’ he added.

Earlier, the National Theatre boss thanked the minister for his vision to ensure that the national monument regains its lost glory.

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