Inadvertently, Nigeria’s sports minister’s visit to the first modern sporting arena in West Africa, the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium in Ibadan, coincided with the 112th birthday anniversary of the late stage after whom the stadium was renamed.
Built by the Western Region government of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the arena was named the Liberty Stadium to commemorate the attainment of self. It was renamed after Awolowo on 12 November 2010 by President Goodluck Jonathan.
But despite the earlier status of the arena, the first to be fitted with floodlights and equipped with hostels; it had seen the better part of life.
Sports Minister, Sunday Dare visited the arena on Saturday which coincided with what could have been the 112th birthday of the brain behind the previously sumptuous stadium.
The minister was obviously disappointed by what he saw. According to a media release by his media team, Dare was worried by the deplorable state of the facilities.
He reportedly vowed that all illegal structures at the stadium would be taken off just as was done with the National Stadium in Lagos and the Moshood Abiola National Stadium Abuja.
The minister appealed to private investors in the country to take advantage of the public private partnership of the government by turning most of the hostels to hotels to generate revenue for government and the investors.
“The non-functional hostel is a source of worry. We plan to clear these illegal structures and turn the hostels to hotels. Earlier during his tour, the minister visited two Olympic-bound athletes- Lawal Rufiyat Folashade and Liadi Taiwo. He admonished them to do their very best by putting up a befitting performance at the games.