BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
Nigeria’s sports minister has once again reaffirmed that the National Stadium in Lagos and other Federal Government owned sports facilities that are in state of disrepairs would be fixed.
The minister, who will clock a month in office on Saturday, restated that the Federal Government had the political will to upgrade stadiums across the country.
This is contained in a press release obtained by www.sportsvillagesquare.com. Hasiya Haruna, an information officer in the Ministry of Youth and Sport Development, signed the press statement.
Last weekend, he visited the once iconic National Stadium Lagos. That was after similar working visits to the dilapidated Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja and the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna where promises of upgrading were made.
Sports Village Square notes that the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Ibadan is yet to be visited. The arena, previously called the Liberty Stadium was the first modern stadium in West Africa. At a time, it boasted of having the best playing pitch in Africa as matches could be played there, even under torrential rainfall, as the pitch would never be waterlogged.
It hosted the Group B matches of the 1973 African Games as well as that of the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations. It was one of the venues for the 1999 FIFA U 20 championship. In the 1960s, it was the choice ground for national team matches.
It last hosted Nigeria’s national team on July 9, 1983 when Nigeria beat Togo 2-1 in an Olympic Games qualifier. The last major football match played at the stadium was 20 years ago when Shooting Stars lost at home to Egypt’s Al Ahly in the continental premier clubs competition.
As regards the decaying state of the National Stadium, Surulere, the Nigerian Sports Minister assured that the Ministry will consult and sit with experts and stakeholders, including Auditors to work out best options.
He promised to put in motion a process of refurbishing the edifice which he said is central to bringing back the culture of sports, which will require political will, and synergy of various levels of Federal Government, States and Local Governments working together and most importantly a large dose of participation by the private sector.
Similarly, Mr Sunday Dare has also visited the MKO National Stadium Abuja, Ahmadu Bello Stadium Kaduna as well as inspecting other stadiums. He said that Government is ready to upgrade , manage and maintain these facilities to it’s optimal working condition that will attract a huge number of Youths involving themselves in different sporting activities, thereby diverting their minds and attention from vices.
The Minister said this would be one of the several inspections that will be done on the facilities; reports and audits will be done before the actual renovation. He said that Government is determined to build the capacity and good virtues of our Youths through the standard upgrade of these Stadia to enhance and ensure relative peace and security in Nigeria.
As the saying goes, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop” but when these youths are positively engaged in one sporting game or the other in these standard and well equipped Stadia, they will become good citizens of the Nigerian society.