General Manager/CEO

GMCEO 2020-September-1 National Theatre

Prof. Sunday E. Ododo fsonta, fta, fsna,fnipr,faan,fcrsa,FNAL

  • General Manager/CEO
  • The National Theatre, Nigeria
  • A ‘scholar artist’.
  • Professor of Performance Aesthetics and Theatre Technology

A GRATEFUL JOURNEY: Changing the Narrative of the National Theatre

Dear Esteemed Members of the National Theatre Family,

As I bid farewell to every one of you, I find myself reflecting on the incredible journey we have shared during my tenure as General Manager/CEO. My first words on taking over in September 2020 come to mind for their poignant accuracy: “God is the author of time”. Indeed, God has brought this time upon us, and I am grateful to him.  Serving this vibrant and dynamic community has been an honour, and I am filled with gratitude for the enriching experiences and memories we have created together. This incredible journey, which commenced on 1st September 2020 under the visionary leadership of the former President, Muhammadu Buhari, has been a chapter of my life that I will forever cherish. This journey also dovetailed into the early months of President Bola Tinubu. I thank him for allowing me to prepare the ground for his new vision in arts, culture and the creative economy being championed by Barrister Hannatu Musa Musawa, the Honourable Minister of Art, Culture and the Creative Economy.

First and foremost, I want to express my deepest gratitude to President Buhari for entrusting me with the responsibility of overseeing the National Theatre—a cultural institution that stands as a beacon of our nation’s artistic prowess. The opportunity to serve our great nation in this capacity has been a privilege, and I am truly thankful for the support, trust, and guidance I have received throughout this transformative period.

Together, we have embarked on a journey of progress, innovation, and unity, achieving remarkable milestones that have not only elevated the status of the National Theatre but have also left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of Nigeria. All these while the National Theatre was undergoing massive rehabilitation and turn around– a milestone achieved with the help of the former Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the Bankers Committee through the Central Bank of Nigeria.

One of the hallmarks of our collective efforts has been the establishment of unparalleled industrial harmony within the institution. The fostering of a positive and collaborative environment has allowed creativity to flourish, enabling our talented artists and staff to contribute to the vibrancy of our cultural heritage and output.

Recognizing our exceptional staff’s dedication and hard work, we made staff promotions periodic and timely, ensuring that merit and commitment are duly acknowledged. Additionally, comprehensive welfare packages, study leave opportunities, and ongoing training initiatives have been instrumental in nurturing the professional growth and development of our National Theatre family.

Our commitment to excellence has been reflected in strategic postings and deployments that have injected fresh perspectives and energy into our vibrant community. The National Theatre now stands not only as a stage for artistic expression but also as a dynamic institution that cultivates talent, professionalism, and growth. We have laid a solid foundation for the New National Theatre and have undoubtedly pushed the bar higher.

The increased visibility of the National Theatre has been a collective triumph. Through meticulous publicity efforts, we have successfully positioned the National Theatre as not just a physical structure but as a dynamic and thriving hub of cultural richness. This increased visibility has undoubtedly contributed to a deeper connection between the National Theatre and the hearts of our fellow citizens.

Obtaining the National Theatre FM Radio license stands out as a monumental achievement during our tenure. This milestone will provide us with a powerful platform to amplify our message, connect with our audience, and promote the rich cultural heritage of our nation through the airwaves.

Our journey has taken us far beyond the boundaries of the National Theatre. We proudly carried the spirit of our institution to Ile-Ife and Nasarawa (for the Public Play Reading); the Durbar in Ilorin, transcending geographical constraints and sharing the beauty of our cultural expressions with diverse audiences. The impact of our initiatives has resonated far and wide, reinforcing the National Theatre as a cultural ambassador for our nation.

The National Theatre Festival of Unity, spanning four enriching editions (2020-2023), is a testament to our commitment to fostering unity through the arts. This annual celebration has showcased the immense talent within our borders and brought together artists, performers, and enthusiasts from across the nation. It stands as a shining example of the unifying power of culture and the arts.

Through the National Theatre Monograph Series, we have documented the innovations in art and cultural studies in a scholarly manner. These Monographs are leading references nationally and internationally on Nigeria’s culture theatre practices and the creative economy. This has been a unique gift to the industry and academics, and we are proud that these legacies are testimonies of our leadership path.

Let me also recall that on my first day in the National Theatre as the General Manager/Chief Executive Officer, I made a commitment that

With God helping me and with you hardworking Directors and Staffs cooperating with us to actualize our vision for the National Theatre, I am confident that I will change the narrative of the National Theatre… so let us create this orchard of beautiful flowers with our different knowledge, experiences and contributions.

With almost four years down the line, a moribund National Theatre has come alive with numerous creative activities; the building and environment wearing a new look; state-of-the-art facilities are being installed and a renewed National Theatre would soon be delivered to Nigerians. That is the “orchard of beautiful flowers” we promised. Indeed, we have “changed the narrative of the National Theatre” for good.

As I bid farewell to this extraordinary chapter, the flowery Ododo Era, I want to enjoin you to nurture, maintain and sustain our collective orchard of beautiful flowers for posterity and mankind. More than anything else we have clarified the functional distinction between the National Theatre the Edifice and the National Theatre the Parastatal. But both must work together for Nigerians to derive maximum benefits. Let me express my deepest appreciation to the entire National Theatre community— our dedicated staff, talented artists, supportive stakeholders, and the citizens of Nigeria who have embraced and celebrated the National Theatre as a cornerstone of our cultural heritage.

I am leaving for Nigeria a revitalised National Theatre. May it continue to flourish and inspire generations to come. I am confident that, under new leadership, the institution will reach even greater heights, contributing to our beloved Nigeria’s cultural vibrancy, creative economy and national pride. Please I appeal to the National Theatre workforce to be loyal and cooperate fully with the new management.

With heartfelt gratitude and warm regards, I say let love prevail in genuine fellowship. Farewell!

Prof Sunday Enessi Ododo,fsonta,fta,fsna,fana,fnipr,faan,fcrsa,FNAL

Out-going General Manager/CEO, National Theatre, Nigeria

January 16, 2024… Address to National Theatre Management and Staff

GENERAL MANAGER/CEO’S INAUGURAL SPEECH - It’s a New Beginning

I am very happy to be in this building of historical importance.  I want to begin to say that God is the author of time.  It pleased Him that this moment He appoints my humble self to head and direct the affairs of the National Theatre of Nigeria.  When in 1985 I had a rear privilege to appear on the National Theatre stage to perform under the Open Theatre programme of the National Theatre, I had never known that one day it will be my lot to direct the affairs of this magnificent monument of historical relevance.

Indeed, when many of my friends, colleagues, well-wishers said to me ‘welcome back home’, my mind went back to that historical period.  I have come and it is my prayer and wish that I will see clearly and that I will also conquer.  With God helping me and with you hardworking Directors and Staffs cooperating with us to actualize our vision for the National Theatre, I am confident that I will change the narrative of the National Theatre.  

I am an incurable optimist, I like to look beyond the immediate challenges, of course challenges are meant for men to conquer, working together as one family, we will emerge victorious, we will be conquerors.

Please this is a new beginning.  I am not part of your story before this arrival so let us begin to write our new story of excitement of success, of development of good things in the National Theatre on the world map of successful National Theatres in the world.  

I don’t have much to say today because this job, this assignment is not for me alone.  I am essentially to give direction. By the time I seat with you the Management staff, together we would fashion out the road map that will take us out of the woods.  I am open to objective and workable ideas.  One tree does not make a forest, so let us create this orchard of beautiful flowers with our different knowledge, experiences, contributions.  A leader is as strong as his followers.  Please follow me genuinely with open heart on this journey of our decision to recreate a National Theatre of our dream.

Thank you very much. 
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Prof. Sunday E. Ododo, fsonta, fta, fsna, fana, fnipr,faan, FNAL
2nd September, 2020

THE CAPACITY BUILDING WORKSHOP FOR THE MANAGEMENT AND STAFF OF THE NATIONAL THEATRE, LAGOS. THE ADDRESS OF HE GENERAL MANAGER/CEO, NATIONAL THEATRE, PROFESSOR SUNDAY ENESSI ODODO, fsonta, fta, fsna, fana, fnipr,faan,FNAL

The Directors and Management Staff of the National Theatre
Board Members of NT and NTN
The Consultant, Brooks Consolidated Investment Ltd
The 2018 NNOM Recipient, Prof Olu Obafemi
The Erstwhile DG of CBAAC, Prof Duro Oni
Dear Participants
Gentlemen of the press
Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is with great pleasure I stand before you. Let me begin by registering my profound gratitude to God Almighty, who makes all things possible and for His pleasure for sending me on an assignment to the National Theatre, Nigeria and for making this day possible. I thank profusely the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mohammadu Buhari, GCFR, for this rare privilege of being appointed to contribute to nation-building as General Manager/CEO of our National Theatre. Let me also thank very specially the Honourable Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed under whose direct supervision I have been discharging my assignment.
The event today is The Capacity Building Workshop for the Management and Staff of the National Theatre. It is the first in the series of turnaround programmes we have earmarked for the National Theatre. This workshop is aptly titled Repositioning and Marketing the National Theatre in a Post Covis-19 Era. It is designed to unveil our vision and action plan for the National Theatre and to equip the National Theatre Workforce to conveniently key into that vision.

Our thinking envisions:
A National Theatre that yields optimal commercial value to both government and the creative industry players while establishing itself as the centre of gravity for Nigeria’s creative and performative endowments.

Action Plan
a) Upscaling the Commercial Viability of the National Theatre
: The
first mandate of the National Theatre as contained in the act (No 47, 1991) establishing its board, is to ensure that the National theatre is efficiently run as a Commercial Concern. This we shall do in line with prevailing realities, but most importantly along the lines of entrepreneurial partnerships that will enhance maximal utilization as against shrewd economics that may isolate us.
It is pertinent to remind the general public that our mandate at the  National Theatre is to among other things:
i. ensure that the National theatre is efficiently run as a Commercial Concern;
ii. serve as a physical structure for arts/cultural exchange for bilateral cultural relations between Nigeria and other countries;
iii. make the National Theatre Complex a tourist destination;
iv. make the national theatre a rallying point for both national and international artistes;
v. provide an up to date integrated facilities and venue for National and International activities like musical concerts, dramas, film shows, symposia, exhibitions, conventions, workshops and even sports;
vi. Provide an unequalled hospitality, relaxation and recreation centre for family, efficient security system and expansive parking space like nowhere else in the country;
vii. approve the use of the National Theatre Complex and its facilities for the presentation and promotion of arts, culture and other activities.;
viii. preserve, present and promote the arts and the rich culture of Nigeria., etc.
b) We shall give impetus to our national economic development as our theatre, culture, Literature and civilization are thriving revenue generating industries.
c) National Theatre to once again become a beehive of arts and culture programmes and activities: In view of our mandate, we shall work out collaborations with relevant agencies of the Federal Government, the States and Local Governments to ensure that we are inclusive and robust with the agenda of the presentation, preservation and promotion of the arts and cultures of Nigerian peoples. We shall collaborate with cultural units of foreign missions, independent artists, scholars, and the corporate world to ensure that the National Theatre is not only a beehive of arts and culture programmes and activities showcasing our rich diversity and its advantages, but also, through deliberate and innovative programming, providing an enhanced platform
that revivifies the performing arts as a vehicle orchestrating avenues to navigating our common contemporary challenges as a nation and signposting our way to the future. We will courageously, within the allowable limits of our mandate, experiment with new ideas that will provoke creative thinking in our national life.
d) Skills Acquisition Programmes: We shall initiate programmes for Creative Skills acquisition for our teaming youth, women and children so that they can find fulfilment through their latent talents and also contribute to the national economy.
This Action Plan is anchored on the desire to contribute meaningfully to the strategic priorities of the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration for the Culture and Tourism sectors, which are:
1. to build a thriving and sustainable economy, and
2. to enhance social inclusion and reduce poverty.
While paying tribute to the roll of those who have held this office before me, we humbly recognise their achievements which of course are the blocks upon which we will build. I am confident that I will continue to win the support of the hardworking staff of the National Theatre and other players in our creative industry. The National Theatre under my watch and stewardship will be a home to all. We will beam a ray of hope in our national unity from here for others to see and take bearing. I invite all stakeholders and vested interests to come to us and we shall reason together.
I therefore urge our dear participants to take keen interest in this repositioning and marketing workshop which I believe will set the tone for the success we intend to record in the next few years.

Thank you.

Professor Sunday Enessi Ododo, fsonta, fta, fsna, fana, fnipr,faan, FNAL
General Manager/CEO, National Theatre, Nigeria

Opening Speech Delivered by the General Manager/CEO of National Theatre Prof. Sunday E. Ododo, fsonta, fta, fsna, fana, fnipr, faan, FNAL, at the maiden Special Stakeholders’ Roundtable Engagement on Corporate Partnership for National Theatre Programmes, Products and Services held at Protea Hotel Ikeja.

It is with profound gratitude and immense joy that I welcome you all to the maiden National Theatre Special Stakeholders’ Roundtable Engagement on Corporate Partnership for National Theatre Programmes, Products and Services. My gratitude is for your understanding and co-operation with National Theatre over the years. We have long standing mutually beneficial relationships with some here present and for you all to be here today, we appreciate the longevity of our corporate relationship.

My joy is that we have present here the crème de la crème and top echelon of carefully selected corporate bodies and individuals who we have identified as important to the new thinking of the Management of the National Theatre and its vision for a new modern National Theatre we can all be proud of.

This Stakeholders’ Roundtable Engagement is not by mere chance; it is the product of a well thought out blueprint which I delivered during the National Theatre Workers Capacity Building which held last year. So, having identified the major challenges of the most popular and iconic architectural master piece in Nigeria- the National Theatre- we devised ways of overcoming them for mutual benefits of the public- for whom we hold the National Theatre in trust- and the corporate world- for whom we believe there are numerous opportunities of collaborations and pecuniary partnerships.

We are here for an obvious reason as we are all probably aware that the National Theatre edifice is presently undergoing much needed revamping, rehabilitation, and restoration, else we would not be having this event in Ikeja. This Roundtable is a prelude to the new National Theatre to come and what we are doing here today is visionary as the partnerships and collaborations we forge here today and in the near future are the arteries to supply the much-needed impetus that will fuel our operations in the new National Theatre.

You have been invited to hear presentations, to get a mental picture of the multitude of possibilities available in the National Theatre, creative and entertainment industries. To be presented is a buffet, a potpourri of programmes, events, creative and artistic contents that you can choose from as presented; and they can be garnished to become tailor made for your organization(s).

One thing we are certain of is that on the menu list there is something for everyone and in most cases more than enough to go round as we have identified the present opportunities and benefits as well as the most likely trajectory of the creative cum entertainment industry.

What you have is an opportunity to help shape that trajectory in a profitable and reciprocally beneficial way while contributing to the development of Nigeria’s economic diversification in one master stroke.

If this is a Play acted on the Stage of the National Theatre, then this would be Act 5. The first act was the Workers Capacity Building workshop which held for 2 days on November 30th to December 1st, 2020, the second act was the First National Theatre Festival of Unity which held from Dec. 18 to Dec. 20, 2020 and the third act was the Public Play reading which took place on August 24th, , 2021, followed by the 4th act- a Theatre Technology training which held on August 25th, 2021.

This is why the aforementioned trainings and events make this the 5th Act of this “Play”; we started with the retraining of our Workforce as they are critical in the service delivery process, then we opened our gates to the public in the first ever National Theatre Festival of Unity and a Public play reading-this was to launch our new thinking that the National Theatre is now more than an event centre, it is also the home of artistic creations- then we trained our workforce again- so as to prepare them for the outcomes of this Stakeholders’ Roundtable Engagement holding today- these all show Plot, Direction and well thought out sequence of actions leading to a profitable climax.

On this note, I heartily welcome you to this Special Stakeholders’ Roundtable Engagement on Corporate Partnership for National Theatre Programmes, Products and Services. It is our belief that the ripple effects of today’s presentations, deliberations and agreements on corporate partnerships will have positive reverberations across Nigeria and Africa at large.

Thank you.

Article: National Theatre Radio begins operations soon — daybreak news

YouTube: National Theatre ROUNDTABE event reportage

Brief on Prof. Sunday E. Ododo fsonta, fta, fsna, fana, fnipr,faan, FNAL

By MANAGEMENT

Professor Sunday Enessi Ododo, fsonta, fta, fsna,fnipr,faan,FNAL presently the General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the National Theatre has been in office since September 3, 2020. Until his appointment he was Professor of Performance Aesthetics and Theatre Technology at University of Maiduguri; he has served in that capacity since 2008. He is an accomplished academia credited with inventing the Facekuerade Theory.

Besides his academic and intellectual prowess, other milestones in his career – professional and otherwise- include but not limited to the following: Trustee (SONTA) (2017 to date) (National President, Society of Nigerian Artists (SONTA) (2013-2017), Vice President SONTA (2009 2013); Member, International Organization of Scenegraphers, Technicians and Architects of Theatre (OISTAT); Chief Judge of Literary Prizes, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA, National Body) (2006 to 2009); Fellow of SONTA, ANA, NANTAP, SNA.

His leadership vision and well-articulated plan of action for the National Theatre is the gradually returning the lost glory of the Headquarters of culture in Nigeria National Theatre. Under his leadership, the National Theatre is enjoying more visibility as he continues to bring theory to practice through innovative programmes and artistic contents most of which are novel as well as noble. He has recorded many ‘firsts’ which include: periodic staff training; a more robust staff welfare package; stakeholders’ engagements; Public Play reading; and the widely acclaimed National Theatre Festival of Unity. The National Theatre is now easy to engage with online with the improved social media presence and a functional website; a result of his investment information/media unit of the National Theatre.

The ingenuity Prof. Sunday E. Ododo has kept the National Theatre thriving despite the loss of access to the building which is now a construction zone.

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