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Despite fear of ‘structural defect,’ Teslim Balogun Stadium goes all-covered

By Gowon Akpodonor
07 May 2022   |   3:10 am
The decision by Lagos State government to convert the Teslim Balogun Stadium to an all-covered complex has raised fears in some Nigerians that the complex might not be strong enough to withstand the heavy equipment being added to it.

• Tartan Track Scrapped • MFM FC Players Urge Sanwo-Olu To Visit Complex

The decision by Lagos State government to convert the Teslim Balogun Stadium to an all-covered complex has raised fears in some Nigerians that the complex might not be strong enough to withstand the heavy equipment being added to it.

The fear of ‘structural defect’ being raised in some quarters notwithstanding, an official of Lagos State Sports Commission, Mrs. Oluyomi Oluwasunmi, has said there is no cause for alarm. She explained that a team of engineers had certified the complex safe for the additional work to commence.

Construction of the stadium, located directly opposite the National Stadium in Surulere, started in 1984 under the administration of military governor, Gbolahan Mudasiru. But construction later got stalled and the stadium became a white elephant project. By the time the stadium was completed in 2007, it had taken 23 years to build and cost Lagos State over N1.386 billion.

When The Guardian visited the complex during the week, some pillars had been mounted around the seating arena, preparing it to become an all-covered stadium. A bulldozer was also seen leveling the tartan track, which was re-laid in the build up to Eko 2012 National Sports Festival.

What is left in the complex is the football pitch, which serves as home ground for MFM Football Club and other teams featuring in the lower divisions of Nigerian football.

Some players of MFM FC, who spoke with The Guardian after their training session on Tuesday, said the Lagos State government may have been ill advised by politicians to change the entire complex to an all-covered arena.

“Personally, I don’t see any reason why Lagos State should turn this old complex into an all-covered arena,” one of the players said, pleading anonymity. “The foundation may not be strong enough to withstand these heavy pillars.”

Another player said: “Lagos State has enough space to build an all-covered stadium instead of mounting heavy pillars on this old stadium. I don’t think it is safe for the fans. I want Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to come with qualified engineers to inspect this complex. He should see things for himself.”

Speaking with The Guardian shortly after a press conference to herald the maiden Nigerian Secondary Schools Flag Football League (NSSFFL), Mrs. Oluwasunmi, who represented the Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission, Mr. Sola Aiyepeku, said there is no need to entertain any fear about the decision to turn Teslim Balogun stadium to all-covered complex.

“I don’t think that Lagos State government would want to embark on construction of a project that will endanger the lives of sports-loving Nigerians,” she said. “The team of engineers, who came to inspect this place certified it okay before this project commenced.”

On when the all-covered Teslim Balogun stadium will be completed, Mrs. Oluwasunmi said: “I am sure it will be completed within six months.” The Guardian recalls that in the build up to the commissioning of Teslim Balogun Stadium some years ago, some journalists, who accompanied former Commissioner for Sports and Social Development, Opeyemi Bamidele on an inspection tour of the complex, raised issues on ‘structural deficiency’ of the complex.