10th February, 2021
By Ismaila Chafe
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday approved N9.43 billion to complete the digital switchover, which had previously missed the deadline set for implementation.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting in Abuja.
Mohammed said the council also endorsed a Memorandum of Understanding between the ministry and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Bankers Committee for the renovation of the National Theatre, Iganmu Lagos, at the cost of N31.8 billion.
On the digital switchover, the minister said: “As you know, the ITU had two cuts off dates, one in 2017 another in 2020, where nations were supposed to complete their movement from analogue to digital. Regrettably, we were not able to make it.
“But with the approval of this memo today, we would be striving to switch from analogue to digital.
“We will now agree on a date for a launch in the biggest cities like Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt. And we will start the switch off in the already switched on states.
“The effect of the move today is that digital switchover is now real and the economic effect of it will be the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in content production, channel distribution, Nollywood and electronic appliance productions to service about 20 million Nigerian homes.
“At the end of the switch over, we would have created the biggest free to air TV platform in Africa. I will be announcing a ministerial task force that will execute the council to resolve either this week or next.”
He described the endorsement of the Memorandum of Understanding between the ministry and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Bankers Committee for the renovation of the National Theatre, Iganmu Lagos, as a landmark approval.
“This is a landmark approval because it has paved the way for investment in the creative industry as part of the resolve of this government to create at least one million jobs in the next three years in the creative industry.
“The approval of these two memos is capable of creating one million jobs in the next three years.
“President had in 2020 approved to the CBN and the Bankers Committee, to develop, refurbish, renovate the National Theatre and at the same time take over the adjourning lands to create a veritable creative industry where they will be four hubs. One for films, one for music, one for IT and the other for fashion.
“The memo today was for the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to enter into Memorandum of Understanding for the refurbishment of the National Theatre.
“The CBN and Bankers Committee are willing to invest N21.894 billion to renovate, refurbish and commercialisation (run it profitably) of the National Theatre complex.
According to the minister, the MoU has a life span of 21 years after which it will revert to the government.
“The important thing is that no job will be lost because after the National Theatre is renovated, a special purpose vehicle will be created to run it.
“It cannot be business as usual, it will be a turning point in the creative industry in the sense that we are going to have a brand new National Theatre, an event centre that will help in creating more jobs,’’ he added.
The Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu, who also spoke on the outcome of the meeting, disclosed that the council approved N8.4 billion for the construction of a dam for the Damaturu Water Supply project in Yobe.
Adamu expressed optimism that the approval would help address water supply challenges facing the inhabitants of the state occasioned by the activities of insurgents.
He said: “I presented a memo for the construction of Damaturu water supply project in Yobe State in favour of three contractors at a total sum of N8.43 billion.
“The contracts divided into three are all groundwater or borehole-based projects spread over a wide distance because they are covering three major cities.
“They will be mostly solar-based and also they are in response to the critical needs of these localities within Yobe State, especially as they have been suffering a lot because these areas are affected by the Boko Haram insurgency which started several years ago and therefore, we need to support their water supply needs.
“These are high Sahelian regions where surface water is difficult to come by so we hope that by this intervention, the water supply in these locations would be greatly enhanced.”
According to the minister, the project has a completion period of 24 months.