House suspends National Theatre’s budget, to review privatisation deal

House suspends National Theatre’s budget, to review privatisation deal
National Art Theatre

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Tourism and Culture has suspended action on the proposed 2022 budget of the National Arts Theatre Lagos, saying the Federal Government should not continue to spend huge sums of money on the facility when it has been privatised.

The theatre was also placed on status of enquiry based on the alleged illegal sale of government’s properties on the premises of the theatre.

The committee, at its budget defence session in Abuja on Thursday, resolved to withhold the budget until details of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Information and Culture, and the Bankers’ Committee to take over the property.

The lawmakers said they must also undertake an on-the-spot assessment of the theatre as part of the probe into the alleged illegal sales before approving the budget.

The Director-General of the National Arts Theatre, Prof. Sunday Ododo, had appeared before the committee to defend the 2022 budget, during which he said due to the dilapidation of the structure, the Federal Government signed the MOU with the Bankers Committee earlier in February to rehabilitate the facility.

Ododo said the Bankers’ Committee would commit N21.8bn to the project and would run the facility for 21 years under a new board, with membership drawn from the Federal Government and the committee.

The DG, who said he did not have details of the sharing formula as contained in the MOU, said whatever profit was generated from the new arrangement would be shared between the Federal Government and the Bankers’ Committee.

Ododo noted that work had begun on the project since April and it was expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

The House committee, however, demanded details of the MOU, which should be forwarded on or before Friday (today).

The lawmakers asked how the government was expected to pump money into the National Arts Theatre if there was a takeover by another organisation.

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