Consortia Flay CBN On Purported Take-Over Of National Arts Theatre


National Arts Theatre: Consortia want CBN To Stop Action On Purported

Two Nigerian companies, Topwide Apeas and Jadeas Trust, have called on
the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, ICRC, the Bureau of
Public Enterprise, BPE, and the Board of the National Arts Theatre, to
prevail on the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and Bankers’ Committee to
cease all plans for the redevelopment of the National Arts Theatre
Complex, Iganmu, Lagos.
The call comes on the heels of recent media reports that the Central
Bank and the Bankers’ Committee have been given the go-ahead by the
Federal Government to transform the National Arts Theatre Complex and
the surrounding fallow ground into a creative industry park.
Topwide Apeas and Jadeas Trust, who are a part of a consortium comprising a team of international financial institutions and private
sector partners, are claiming the rights to develop the structure via a concession granted by the ICRC. Topwide Apeas Limited, through a letter written by its law firm, Associated Attorney, and addressed to the ICRC, copying the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee, stated that they had emerged the preferred bidders to develop the national monument following a series of negotiations that started in 2003 with the Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE, and later the ICRC.
According to the letter, whereas Topwide Apeas Consortium was declared
winner of the concession bid for the National Arts Theatre that was
concluded in 2015 under the auspices of the Infrastructure Regulatory
Commission Act 2005 and sanctioned by the Bureau for Public Procurement,
BPP, the company thereafter entered into partnership agreement with
Jadeas Trust, who had sued the Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE over the
same issue.
  The agreement was sealed by a Memorandum of Understanding that mandated
both companies to jointly execute the project under the terms of the
project endorsed by the BPE and ICRC.
The letter further stated that the consortium intends to develop the
complex into a creative hub which would serve as the new tourism and
creative gateway into the nation. The letter, which was signed by a
senior associate, Abraham Jande, also added that the project is expected
to gulp over $2b and will create employment opportunities, build
capacity as well as generally beautify the landscape of Lagos and serve
as creative industry’s gateway into the country.
Speaking on behalf of Consortium, Prince Chris Ogan rhetorically asked,
“Is it a crime to follow due process in a Public Private Partnership in
Nigeria?’ You conclude concession agreement negotiations with the
federal government team and like a magician another entity appears to
say we are taking over the subject asset.  We and our foreign partners
are alarmed to say the least.”
While appealing to the ICRC to intervene so that the sanctity of the
consortium’s contract is protected and respected in the interest of law
and order, the consortium added that neither the CBN nor the Banker’s
Committee has the right to interfere in the concession agreement.
The Central Bank of Nigeria has also been advised not to abdicate its
core functions, but to focus on its task of ensuring sound monetary and
fiscal policies and sound financial regulation.
The consortia went further to say that the involvement of the apex bank
in the project does not only come across as a clear infraction of due
process but also raises clear-cut questions on the CBN and the Banker’s
Committee’s involvement especially with no history or expertise in the
development of the creative industries, or any project with such nuance
or magnitude as the National Arts Theatre, an architectural masterpiece
widely cherished by Nigerians as a national monument and a cultural
The consortium is also asking the Central Bank of Nigeria and Bankers’
Committee not to take over the National Arts Theatre, as they are not
the project developers, while also seeking the Federal Executive
Council’s approval for the project as an attraction of foreign
investment that will lead to employment generation in the country.