The Youth and Sports Development Ministry has reacted to Monday’s collapse of one of the four floodlight masts at the National Stadium, in Lagos.
According to a statement from the minister’s spokesman, Kola Daniel, only about a week ago, the outgoing minister of sports, Chief Sunday Dare spoke about the efforts to refurbish the abandoned sports edifice.
Estimate to put the stadium which has been abandoned for close to 20 years was put at N21 billion.
“But rather than reason alongside the honourable minister, many critics jumped at it, by questioning both the veracity of the figure and timing of the request, considering the fact that the tenure of Chief Dare as Minister of sports, was fast running out”, Kola Dare stated.
But while the scrutiny was still going on, a heavy rain and windstorm, inflicted more destruction on the stadium.
An immediate casualty is one of the four floodlight towers.
Sports Village Square reports that the 62.18 metre tall towers have been emblematic of the stadium since it was commissioned on 4 December 1972 by General Yakubu Gowon as Head of State.
The floodlight towers are easily seen even many kilometres away from Surulere area of Lagos.
But tt is doubtful, if any work had been done on any of the four towers since installation in the early 1970s.
With each standing at 62.18 metres, it was problematic putting the towers in place during the construction of the stadium.
Sports Village Square’s checks reveal that there was the problem of reaching the top of the four towers by crane during the construction. At the time, the tallest crane in Lagos was 38.1 metres.
Trial concrete mixes were carried out for the various types of concrete to be used for the construction works. Suitable mixes were obtained and work progressed until there was shortage of steel reinforcement.
Modifications were made and work ended early in January 1973 just in time for the Second All Africa Games which acted as a catalyst for speeding up the beginning and completion of the project.
The minister’s spokesman pointed out that floodlight towers were not covered by the on going rehabilitation work.
“To properly put the need to regularly maintain our sports facilities, as being championed by the Sports Minister and to mildly respond to nay sayers, who thinks it is out of place to spend huge amount of money to renovate stadiums, the Manchester City example should suffice.”
Kola Dare used the Manchester City home ground to illustrate his point.
“Only this week the Board of Manchester City, wrote the Council, seeking permission to upscale the Etihad Stadium, from 60,000 to 67,000 seats.
“The figures for this project has been put at US$317 million dollars, and a substantial percentage of the total sum is reserved for the routine rehabilitation or maintenance of parts of the facility, which at present is top notch and ranked amongst the top 5 stadiums, in England.
“This underscores the need to inculcate a variable and sustainable maintenance culture, as every structure is liable to wear and tear, once put into use.
“Nigeria should therefore brace up to this fact and cannot afford to continue playing the Ostrich”.