By G9ija

The stage is now set for the take-off of Creative Industries park, the brain child of the Bankers’ Committee under its Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI),  as the conversion of  the National Theatre Iganmu, Lagos, its pilot project, has got the blessings of  President Muhammadu Buhari.

Disclosing this at the weekend in Lagos, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said  the president has given  approval for the transformation of the moribund edifice into an income generating asset for his state and the country.

Sanwo-Olu, who stated this during an assessment of the facility alongside his Deputy, Mr. Obafemi Hamzat; the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele,  the Chairman of Body of Bank CEOs /the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc; Mr. Herbert Wigwe; the apex bank’s Director of Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor as well as other stakeholders, said that the infrastructure is available , close to the Iganmu Rail Station currently under construction.

He added:  ‘What we have come to see is for us to be able to give the go-ahead, working with all other stakeholders and our development partners, led by the CBN Governor, who are putting investments together to do a first-of-its type entertainment, fashion, music, technology, movies and an all-around creative hub.What we have come to ascertain for ourselves is to also appreciate the extent of an asset that has been conceived as a non-earning asset but I dare say that Mr. President has been gracious to give the go-ahead and turn this dead asset into an income earning state-of-the-art fashion and entertainment industry.”

In his comments, Emefiele said the Bankers’ Committee planned to use the facility , which when fully developed would be 10 times the size of the Convention Center in Peru, to develop the skills of Nigerian youths in the creative sector of the economy.

His words:“About three years ago, we were at Peru, and I can tell you that if this facility is developed, it will be an asset that will be 10 times the kind of convention centre that we saw in Peru. That is the reason we said that the youths need a chance. We need to give the youths of this country a chance. That is why under our CIFI we said, for those who want to do fashion, those who are into movie, information technology and entertainment industry, we will build a hub around this art theatre, an edifice to accommodate them so that they can develop their God-given gifts.

“I can imagine what this place will look like in another two years if every weekend there will be something happening, it will boost the tourism potential of Lagos state and Nigeria.”

On his part, Wigwe said the intervention is in line with the Federal Government’s vision of lifting 100 million people out of poverty. With the creative village that is being created, definitely, we would provide employment for at least a million Nigerians who have skills in music, IT, movies, etc.”

Just last week in Lagos at Creative Nigeria Summit, Emefiele had announced that in order to encourage the innovative work of  talented  Nigerians in music, movie, fashion and Information technology, CBN, in conjunction with the Bankers Committee, pledged the sum of  N22 billion for the development of a creative industry parks across three major cities: Lagos,  Kano, Port Harcourt or Enugu.

His words: “So far, the CBN and the Bankers Committee intend to support this creative venture with N22 billion of initial funds. Part of our efforts in the music and movie industry will be to support young entrepreneurs in the development of digital content at the park. Our Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) will also enable the development of distribution outlets such as cinemas and music platforms, which will help improve the reach of the content developed by our young entrepreneurs.

“Our plan is to develop a 40- acre Creative Industry Park around the National Theater including giving the Theater itself tremendous face lift; thereby reopening the tourism potential which the theatre offered during the FESTAC 77.

Following the deployment of the pilot scheme in Lagos, we intend to set up similar parks in Kano, Port Harcourt or Enugu.

“Our goal through the establishment of these parks is to create an environment where startups and existing businesses can be incubated and rewarded for their creativity. In each of these parks, efforts will be focused on discovering the most innovative young entrepreneurs across the music, movie, fashion and IT industries. Each park will be able to support skills acquisition for over 200,000 Nigerians.

“These individuals will be empowered with funds at single digit interest rate, state-of-the-art tools, high level training and networks, that will enable them to turn their ideas into a reality. When they are able to achieve this objective of creating a new music product, a high-quality movie, an IT software application, or a fashionable outfit, we will work to ensure that they are able to distribute their work on a large scale around the globe.

“We are cognizant of the fact that a growing creative industry will also support the growth of other sectors of our economy, such as logistic firms, financial service companies, construction firms, as well as legal firms.”