Workers of the National Theatre, in Lagos, have accused a top management staff of selling the agency’s property worth millions of naira and leasing portion of land within the premises to a private business owner.
This act by the top management staff, according to the workers, was against the speech made by the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, recently at the official handing over ceremony of the edifice to the CBN Bankers’ Committee.
Mohammed was reported to have warned against ceding any portion of the national heritage to any person or group.
The Minister said: “Please permit me to start off by making a clarification: this iconic National Theatre remains a national heritage and will not be ceded to any person or group, as some have chosen to frame what we are doing here today.
“What we are here to do is to hand over the National Theatre for restoration and upgrade and the fallow land within the premises to the Central Bank and the Bankers’ Committee for development. The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture holds the keys to the National Theatre on behalf of all Nigerians”.
In what many workers of the parastatal described as an affront to the minister’s directive, the top management staff, as contained in a Memorandum of Understanding dated 15 January, allegedly conceded 8,004 square meters of land on lease to Adewaxs Global Ventures for three years and also sold off other valuable items of the parastatal.
Speaking on the development, one of the workers who pleaded not to be named, lamented the gloomy state of affairs since the last six months.
According to him, there is hardly a week the management would not lead trucks load of valuable items and appliances out of the premises.
He stated : “Since the expiration of the two weeks’ notice given to us by the contractor to move our property out of the main bowl, we have been seeing different sizes of trucks loaded with air-conditional, electricity transformers, cables and other valuables moving out of the premises. They have looted the store and sold the cable in it to buyers brought in by the General Manager.
” If the government decides to sell any of these items, there are procedures to be followed but this is not the case. They drive in trucks, load the items and then drive off.
“Within the premises of the national theatre, one of our major challenges is insecurity. We know how hoodlums harass passersby, traders and visitors.
“The management has leased the Ijora end of the theatre to a private company to be used as truck parking bay. Many of us believe that this act will further expose workers, visitors and traders to more danger and attack by hoodlums and miscreants.
” Rather than address the insecurity challenges, the top management staff and his team are busy making money out of the dire situation by leasing out the land and selling government property.
“There was a Prado Jeep that was used by the former General Manager which had an accident. They didn’t even spare the accidented Jeep. They sold it too.
“This left many of us in disbelief because it shows the level of the desperation of the management. The situation calls for the attention of the Ministry of Information and Culture before it gets out of hand.”
The items allegedly sold by the top management staff, according to him, include newly installed 1500kva transformer, galvanized Air Handling Units (AHU) ducts of more than 97 units, 11 air condensing units, 800 tons centrifugal chillers, 20 tons truck of armored cables, truck load of galvanized pipes, accidented Prado Jeep, 2000 black imported plastic chairs and 400 black imported tables.