Facts are emerging on how the Minister of Culture Tourism and National Orientations, Chief Edem Duke, and his cohorts are allegedly scheming to sell the national monument, National Arts Theatre, to private hands. According to information made available to this magazine, all arrangements have been made, sealed, signed and delivered to cede the National Theatre under the guise of private partnership. Our reliable source told us that the grand design to sell National Arts Theatre, may not be unconnected to the inordinate ambition of the expected buyers of the theatre to turn the area into an hospitality haven, which the Culture Minister is well-rooted in. Of course, everyone knows that Chief Edem Duke is the owner of Mirage Hotels, which is doing well in Calabar, South-South geographical zone of Nigeria. As it is now, the ministry may just be perfecting all documents to sell off the National Theatre. The National Theatre is one monument that was built in 1977 by Bulgarians to commemorate the Festival of Arts and Black Culture, (FESTAC 77), and it remains a reference point for lovers of Arts and Culture. Sources at the Culture and Tourism ministry however pointed out that the deal being worked out may not reflect the true situation of the deal. According to the source, the deal to hand off the theatre to a private company would be viewed as a partnership that will improve the infrastructure of the centre with massive development of the expansive land to build a five star hotel, and sundry recreational facilities. It is viewed that such arrangements would invariably kill the theatre. As at the time of going to the press, top staffers of the Culture and Tourism ministry were not ready to talk about the deal and all efforts to speak with the honourable minister, Chief Edem Duke proved abortive. Meanwhile, at the National Theatre in Lagos, its General Manager, Kabir Yusuf declined to comment, but was emphatic that the theatre is not for sale. Also, the Public Affairs Manager, Mr. Toyin Mohammed, refused to comment on the development, rather, he pointed out that whatever may happen is going to happen by way of partnership and not an outright sale of the theatre. He did not give details of the partnership as he referred this reporter to the ministry for further clarifications. If Chief Edem Duke is now being touted as one of the major movers of the deal to sell the theatre, the rest should remain in the imagination of many, and one can only wait for how the whole deal will materialize.
Eventful In Partnership with FirstBank