Posted by: Paul Ukpabio
Nigerian’s Tourism and Culture Minister, Chief Edem Duke early Friday morning, denied the purported sale of Nigeria’s National Arts Theatre located in Lagos, as recently reported by some section of the media.
Sounding very much alarmed in a telephone conversation to the Nation newspaper, the Minister said that, “I have not sold the National Theatre to anyone or organisation as purportedly being written about or talked about.”
In the last few months, the public have been informed variously by some media organisations that Chief Edem Duke acting in his capacity as the Minister of Culture and Tourism, had entered into negotiations to sell off the National Arts Theatre, a national monument which was built for the Festival of Arts and Culture in 1977, under the government of Lt. Gen Olusegun Obasanjo.
It was reported that the secret deal “was shielded from the Nigerian media, in spite of a subsisting concession arrangement with the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE.
But Duke said that, “the media should stop this spread of rumour. I belief that the Nigerian media practitioners are too enlightened to embrace such rumour. The national Theatre I insist is not going to be turned to a hotel. What the Federal Government has been planning to do in the last three years which the media should have followed and monitored to date, is that the fallow land around the National Theatre, is going to be developed to an entertainment city. And there is a due process in place for that purpose. In the last three years, there have been sequential processes in this direction.”
Asked when the intended entertainment city would materialise, the Minister told the Nation that the information will be duly passed to the public in due course; being that the process is still on-going. He however added that, “anything that the government is doing, it does in the interest of the nation as a whole. There is no individual who is going to take the National Arts Theatre and pocket it, no individual, I assure you. I do not know why this matter has repeatedly been an issue.”
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