Chief Segun Runsewe, Director General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), on Wednesday disclosed that the Abuja Arts and Crafts Village would soon be re-opened.
Runsewe, who disclosed this in an interview, in Abuja, said the renovation of the village had reached 80 per cent completion.
The Abuja Arts and Craft Village was engulfed by fire in 2017 and more than 20 shops filled with artworks worth N400m were destroyed.
He said that the organisation had to speed up work at the village not only for the sole purpose of renovation after the fire incident, but because of some alleged illegal activities going on at the site.
Runsewe also disclosed that shops at the village were being subsidised because of government’s commitment to the economic development of ordinary Nigerians.
He, however, decried the situation where an individual would own between 10 to 15 shops, leasing them at exorbitant rates to traders.
The DG said the NCAC was determined to reverse the trend because government’s intention was to have more Nigerians benefit from the gesture.
“Government wanted to use the village to help the ordinary man on the street, but where one person will own three or more shops and turn himself to a landlord on government property is unacceptable.
“The place became full of criminals and a lot of dangerous activities were going on there, we cannot allow that to continue so we had to take a firm decision.’’
Runsewe, however, said the issue had been tabled before the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, and it was looking into it.
According to the DG, some persons have also tuned the village into a place of accommodation, noting that it was against the Abuja Master Plan.
“It is not an accommodation; it is a market place for cultural activities.
“We have been able to at least see for ourselves that we need to take some actions which we have by renovating the place.
“When we re-open, there must be standards; there must be some kind of guide and strict adherence to rules.
“For Instance, there is no sleeping there; the market must close and open at a certain time and cars will not park over night.
“Everything to do with the market must be in accordance with global acceptable standards.’’