FG will make National Theatre a magnet for creative arts – Minister

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By Gbenga Ogundare

The Federal Government has expressed its readiness to make the National Theatre what it should be —a magnet for the creative arts.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the assurance  Saturday during a courtesy visit to Prof. Wole Soyinka in his office at the Freedom Park in Lagos.
Reiterating his earlier statement, he assured that the national monument would not be sold but would be brought up to standard through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
Alhaji Mohammed said he is currently studying the PPP proposal with a view to ensuring that the government and people of the country get a good deal from it.
He said the visit to the Nobel Laureate was to enable him to drink from his (Soyinka’s) cup of wisdom.
Prof. Soyinka had earlier called on the Federal Government to consider building a ‘genuine’ National Theatre, saying what is presently referred to as the National Theatre was never designed to be a theatre in the first place, even though it is ‘adaptable in many ways’.
“This nation needs a genuine theatre. As long as we keep calling it (National Theatre), this nation will never build a theatre,’ he said.
Prof. Soyinka agreed with the Minister that a PPP deal represented one of the most realistic ways to upgrade the standard of the National Theatre and enhance its functionality.
Fielding questions from reporters who accompanied the Minister on the visit, the Nobel Laureate said he is sure that the Federal Government’s ongoing anti-corruption fight will succeed, but warned against complacency since, he said, corruption would always fight back.
He said, never before, not even during the country’s civil war, was the money meant to buy arms for the military to defend the country and protect the citizenry shared by a few people.
Prof. Soyinka said despite the fact that corruption will always fight back, he was so sure that the anti-graft battle would not fail, and that he was ready to give his choicest wine to the reporter who asked him the question, should the anti-corruption fight go otherwise?
“We are not where we were (in the fight against corruption) before this administration took over, but (the government should realize that) corruption will always fight back,’ he said, noting that those already in the cesspit of corruption will be in the forefront of such a counter-battle.