BY: Moses Obajemu
The recourse of Lai Mohammed, miinister of information and culture, to ‘unilaterally’ hand over the National Theatre and the 150 hectares of land on which it sits to the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bankers’ Committee, is still generating controversy as an interested party has described the action as a breach of agreement.
Yetunde Aina, CEO ofJadeas Trust Consortium, a firm with strong involvement in cultural and entertainment matters, said the transfer of the national monument to the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bankers’ Committee, was shocking considering the fact that Mohammed co-facilitated a pact between it and another company, Topwide Apeas , which emerged as preferred bidders through bidding processes conducted by the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission respectively, to work together for the concession management of the National Theatre.
On the concession management of the monument, the Jadeas Trust Consortium boss said its interest in the concessioning dates back to 2002, when it first participated in a BPE bidding process and emerged as the reserve bidder. She said because the process was not conclusive then and in the spirit of transparency, the Nasir El-Rufali led BPE decided to do another bidding process in 2007 when it also participated and emerged as the reserve bidder and eventually as the preferred bidder when the selected preferred bidder Infrastructura did not press on.
Recalling recent events in the 18-year old process she began in 2002, She explained that vice president Yemi Osinbajo once convened a stakeholders meeting, which included the honourable Minister for Culture, representatives of Jadeas Trust, TopWide Apeas and their lawyers, and representatives of the BPE, ICRC, BPP, and the Minister for Justice.
“Following this positive intervention by the Vice President, Jadeas Trust rather than insist on the conclusion of their BPE process which preceded that of the ICRC/ TopWide, eventually signed an MOU with TopWide where both parties agreed to jointly serve as Master Developers.
She said her company first took part in the bidding concession management of the National Arts Theatre Lagos, when it was advertised by the BPE in 2002, with one other firm. Two consortia were then shortlisted – Jadeas Trust and Lloyd Anderson Ltd.
However, Jadeas Trust was the only one that went ahead to make a presentation to the technical committee of the BPE which at the time had Mallam Nasir El Rufai as the director-general.
“That transaction was not concluded and the BPE in a bid to demonstrate transparency, went ahead in 2007 to readvertise the transaction and proceeded to shortlist eight Consortia ( including UPDC, the property development arm of UAC Plc). Jadeas Trust Consortium emerged the reserve bidder and when the initial preferred bidder Infrastructura, was unable to conclude terms, Jadeas became the preferred bidder via the BPE transaction.
The firm said the former president Obasanjo set up an inter-ministerial panel chaired by the then secretary to the government, the late Chief Ufot Ekaete, and including the ministers of culture, works and housing and Finance among others, to work with Jadeas Trust Consortium and ensure that the interests and concerns of the Federal Government were taken on board in the development of their Master Plan. The Masterplan was also endorsed by the then director of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Arc Umaru Aliyu and the FMWH Technical Committee set up for the National Arts Theatre building redevelopment.
After the change of government, Jade Trust Consortium said it made presentations to former Vice president Namadi Sambo who was impressed and then instructed the National Council on Privatisation to receive their financial and technical bids, with Edem Duke, former minister of culture directed to attend the negotiations to conclude the transaction.
“Rather than adhere to the Vice President’s insistence on due process and the conclusion of the transaction, Edem Duke appears to have misled then President Johnathan by failing to mention the existence of the BPE transaction which was awaiting conclusion, in order to secure “anticipatory approval” from President Goodluck Johnathan to commence a parallel transaction via the ICRC.
The Minister himself, Edem Duke, without any attendant due process, appointed BGL as the transaction adviser. This is in contrast to the BPE transaction which was a World Bank assisted transaction and conducted according to international best practices for PPP.
“The ICRC transaction eventually threw up TopWide Apeas as the preferred bidders, leaving Jadeas Trust with no option but to take the various MDAs to court on behalf of the members of their Consortium and to protect their longstanding interest in this transaction.
” In the public interest and in order that this project did not go the way of other moribund privatization projects such as Ajaokuta which are stalled because of a failure to bring parties to the table and reconcile conflicting stakeholder interests, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo convened a stakeholders meeting, which included the Hon Minister for Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed, representatives of Jadeas Trust, TopWide Apeas and their lawyers, and representatives of the BPE, ICRC, BPP, and the Minister for Justice.
“Following this positive intervention by the Vice President, Jadeas Trust rather than insist on the conclusion of their BPE process which preceded that of the ICRC/ TopWide, eventually signed an MOU with TopWide where both parties agreed to jointly serve as master developers, based on the holistic terms of reference of the BPE Public Private Partnership transaction that includes the National Arts Theatre building and it’s surrounding landmass.
“In their role as Master Developers, the SPV to be formed by Jadeas Trust and TopWide Apeas, will provide development guidelines for all the business units within the Master Plan, as well as being responsible for infrastructure development, site improvement, and services.
Jadeas Trust engaged Theatre Projects, globally recognised leaders in this sector, who are the consultants behind the Dolby Theatre ( formerly Kodak Theatre), home to the annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles, and a global portfolio of successful theatre projects. The proposed retrofit of the National Theatre building into a 21st Century Performing Arts centre which will include a Museum of Black and African Art ( MOBAA) a Black Hall of Fame with hologram and augmented reality capabilities, modern Cinemaplex and Comedy Theatre and of course the derelict MainBowl of the National Theatre will be transformed into a 21st Century televisual stage, broadcasting world-class Black Heritage themed content all over Africa and its diaspora.