Nat’l Theatre: Don’t wipe our history, Fashola tells FG

By Monsur Olowoopejo

LAGOS — Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, yesterday, condemned reported attempt by the Federal Government to convert the National Theatre into a five star hotel, saying “stop wiping away history.”

Fashola also stressed the need to allow private sector manage ports activities in the country.

He, however, warned all property owners whose structure had turned to hideout for criminals, to develop it or risk losing such buildings to the government.

Fashola, who spoke at the 2nd Lagos Corporate Assembly held at the Lekki Free Zone, LFZ, Ibeju-Lekki Local Council Development Area, LCDA, on BRF Meets Business, said the sale of the edifice would lead to erasing a heritage that had lasted for years.

It will be recalled that the Federal Government had earlier issued a circular to the occupants of the 36-year-old edifice, to vacate the place within two weeks.

Fashola said: “I heard that the National Theatre is up for sale. And I wondered which kind of people offer to buy the edifice and how they make the money.

“If someone, who had visited the country in 1977 for FESTAC ’77, come back and wanted to see the National Theatre, we would then say that it has been turned to a hotel.”

On trade fair site

Fashola said: “There is a land already provided by the state government to build its own trade fair complex. And the construction of the place would be a Public Private Partnership, PPP, initiative.

“This will give the private sector the opportunity to control the activities in the zone. It will not be a public structure that would be built in the morning and auctioned in the evening.”

Ports, airport construction, mgt

The governor said: “Port management is something that should be left for the private sector. But the government has an enabling role to play.

“Some people spend a large part of their life in this sector. This is a special skill that they have acquired for years. That is why the ports in the Lekki Free Zone, LFZ, would have private intervention.

“We are building an airport in the zone that would operate a 24 hours service. It would be a major airport on its own.

“We are also fast-tracking the construction of sea ports in the zone to aid the access to and evacuation of cargoes from the zone to other countries.

“And the reason the state government is committing itself to the construction of an airport and sea ports in the zone was because of our advantages as a country. And they are our location and population.

“We are six hours from South Africa and Brazil and Europe. People who don’t have the market size and the advantage have beaten us to it.”

“I don’t know any country where the haulage of its industrial cargoes is transported by road. It isn’t sustainable. The roads wouldn’t last.

“The water-ways would be our immediate and short term focus. And before the end of the year, we would ensure the possibility of water transportation in the zone.”

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