Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare has offered an explanation on why the planned rehabilitation of the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja, was yet to begin.
The Stadium, which was recently renamed to immortalize Nigeria’s ‘Democracy hero’, had been a shadow of itself compared to what it was when it was first used in 2003 for the All African Games.
There have been calls from sports fans and other stakeholders for the pride of the stadium to be restored, and Minister Dare says the process had already begun before the coronavirus pandemic struck.
“We were on the verge of completing the documentation process, review, contracting process for the rehabilitation of Moshood Abiola stadium before the novel covid-19 struck,” the Minister told Brila FM in an interview monitored by Ripples Nigeria.
“Remember, it’s a private investment, private support from Alhaji Dangote’s company and they have to go through a lot of processes, they have to invite up to 8 different contractors, they have to visit the stadium, they have to turn in their bill of quantity and they have to sit on a review board.
“All these take time.
“We must also remember that we cannot accelerate or force the process because we are dealing with a well respected Nigerian who is bringing in private money without plans to recoup anything back to help maintain the national stadium,” he said.
Dare, who was appointed Minister in August 2019 replacing former Sports chief Barr. Solomon Dalung, had always reiterated how his mission was first to develop sporting infrastructures in the country.
About the National Stadium in Surulere Lagos, which is also currently in ruins, Dare said his Ministry are also in the process of returning its glory.
“Now, we have concessions approval to concession the national stadium in Surulere and the process has been ongoing,” he said.
“In the next couple of weeks or so, we will have those who are interested in taking over the National Stadium, Surulere concession and hostel will come forth and the normal process of concession will take place.
“Beyond that, we are working with the Federal Government to ask for special intervention fund between 5 to 10 billion naira, that would look at the entire sporting assets in terms of infrastructure across the country and identify the ones we can renovate or upgrade.
“We have completed the audit from the mini stadiums to big stadiums and township stadiums to the indoor sports hall to the multipurpose sports hall to all training centers. 32 of them, and we need government intervention to activate some of them across the country and really get the grassroots sports development started.
“So, these are the ongoing processes but Covid-19 has slowed us down in some ways.”
The coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 200 persons in Nigeria, with over 10,000 confirmed cases, has kept the entire world on standstill, with sporting activities hugely affected.