The minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare insists the national stadium in Lagos is not a market, so there is no going back on the decision to demolish illegal shops and structures to achieve the objective of returning the edifice to its original blueprint.
Addressing the media in Lagos, Mr. Dare reiterated the government’s commitment towards improving infrastructure development.
“For 18 years, the national stadium in Lagos has been used for purposes other than sports. We have started a new regime of trying to develop our sporting infrastructure, the new orientation around sports.
“The facility in Surulere, Lagos is an iconic monument to sports development. It is a sporting complex, any other purpose for which is used will not be accepted. It is not a market, it’s not a beer parlour.
Business owners occupying some parts of the stadium have appealed to the ministry to give them more time to vacate but the ministry insists their time is up.
“What we are trying to do is return that place to its original blueprint and prepare it for concession. The concession process is in the last stage, we are receiving people with their submissions. They must have access to that place.
“If you go there now, you will be shocked that stadium is actually so beautiful because we’ve cleaned it up by taking those things down and we are sure that before the end of this year, you will see changes in that place and we hope to build a 150 shopping mall that all these people can come and be in a single, unified and decent place.”
In December last year, the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development launched the Adopt Campaign Initiative to support athletes and achieve development in some vital areas of the sector, particularly infrastructure development.
The Adopt-a-Pitch and Adopt-a-Sports Centre has a target of reviving sporting infrastructure and facilities across the country.
With the models, individuals or private sector organisations commit to rehabilitate and maintain a stadium pitch, or sports centre such as basketball courts, tennis courts, and the likes, for an agreed period.
The minister did more explanation. “The adopt-a-pitch model or private participation is simply a process in which we get an organisation or individual interested in adopting a sports facility.
“We offer our expertise to present to them four or five professional sport developers particularly when it comes to pitches, you must have a FIFA license.”
Last month, the ministry did the official hand over for the commencement of rehabilitation work of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium to the Dangote Group.
The renovation work will be completed in 24 weeks.
“We are pleased with the contractors working at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja and I’m sure when the work is done in February next year, we will all see it, FIFA will come and certify it, if it does not meet FIFA standard, the contractor will rework it to meet the standard,” the minister assured.
The 20th edition of the National Sports Festival tagged “Edo 2020” was scheduled to hold from March 22nd – April 1st, 2020 but due to the coronavirus outbreak, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the postponement of the games as a precautionary move against its spread.
There have been speculations about a rescheduled date for the event and the minister of youth and sports development provides some clarifications.
“It is our desire to have the National Sports Festival which I call Nigeria’s Olympics to take place this year. We have shown the commitments. We’ve had a team, we had the report where they suggested October for the event.”
Last month ministry announced the resumption of non-contact sports and that brought some sort of excitement to the sporting community.
Things almost got better last week when the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 suggested the gradual return of contact sports but later reversed the decision.
“Based on the Covid-19 infection rate and other indices, Covid-19 infrastructure, protocols, we’ve been working with the PTF, NCDC, and the health Ministry. The ministry will be properly guided, when the numbers are right, we will have the festival. We are going to have contact and non-contact sports. The world has started both but observing the protocols, if we do the same thing here, we can get on with our lives,” Dare stated.
According to the organisers of the Edo 2020 games, about 11,000 athletes and their officials had declared readiness to participate in this year’s edition.
“Conversations are ongoing, in a matter of weeks we should make progress. We’ve provided all the necessary documents and preparations. Remember two months ago, we submitted to the National assembly and PTF, the Covid-19 sports protocols that focused on contact and non-contact sports with a particular section dedicated to football,” the minister assured.
The National Sports Festival is a platform that showcases upcoming and established athletes in the country and has a huge following. The last time it was properly was Eko 2012 edition in Lagos.