Two of Nigeria’s federal government owned sports arena, the National Stadium, Lagos and the Abiola National Stadium Abuja currently undergoing refurbishment may soon be back to host sporting events again.
The two stadiums situated in both current and former capital cities of Nigeria are the flagship sports arenas of the federal government.
They have however being in state of disrepair for a long time. The Abuja stadium was last used by the national football team, the Super Eagles in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Guinea on 8 October 2011. The Lagos stadium last hosted a competitive Super Eagles’ match when the team beat Zambia 1-0 on 13 January 2001 even though in April 2004 it hosted a home-based Super Eagles in a trade-mission tournament organized by an electronic firm.
According to a news release from the media office of the Nigerian sports minister, Chief Sunday Dare, the two sporting facilities will soon roar back to life.
In the release signed by John Joshua Akanji, the minister revealed that the ongoing rehabilitation work at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja and National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos will be accelerated and completed as quickly possible.
Sports Village Square gathered that the repair work at the Abuja Stadium is being undertaken by business mogul, Aliko Dangote while that of Lagos is being bankrolled by sports betting chieftain, Chief Kensington Adebutu who is popularly known as Baba Ijebu.
“We started by ejecting illegal occupants, cleared illegal structures to bring out the beauty of the edifice which is comparable to any top stadium in the world”, remarked Chief Dare.
“By the schedule of the contractors, the rehabilitation will be completed by June”, said the sports minister.
He pointed out that “things have changed from the way we met them.” He pointed out that his regime’s ‘Adopt a Pitch’ initiative is working. “The Adopt an Athlete programme is also yielding results.
“One of the things that give me the most concern is the welfare of athletes, both retired and active.
“The retired ones are not well catered for. We muted the idea of setting up the athletes’ welfare fund which we later changed to Sports Development Fund.
“We have spoken to the NFF, AFN to set up welfare scheme to assist those who are in need of support. We started with assistance to the mothers of Late Rashidi Yekini, Samuel Okwaraji, Sunday Bada and Ali Jeje Ibrahim.
“We also supported the injured female basketball player who needed surgery.
“We worked closely with the Lagos State Government to assist Yisa Sofoluwe, unfortunately he could not survive. We shall continue to do our best to improve the welfare of our sports men and women” remarked Chief Dare.