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National Stadium businesses appeal to ministry over quit notice

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Business owners and members of the National Stadium community have appealed to the Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, to rescind the seven days quit notice issued to shop owners inside the arena ahead of the expected renovation of the edifice.

The business owners said the appeal became necessary considering the economic implication of the sudden eviction notice when Nigerians are struggling with economic hardship caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The business owners urged the Federal Government to consider the harsh economic reality, adding that all policies and decisions on the renovation of the stadium should be citizens-centred.

Former Chairman of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (Lagos Chapter), Fred Edoreh, appealed to the Federal Government to give a human face to the proposed renovation of the National Stadium in Lagos to afford the business owners enough time to organise themselves.

Edoreh commended the sports minister for kick starting the long awaited renovation of one of Nigeria’s national heritages, which many of his predecessors failed to achieve.

“It gladdens my heart that in my lifetime, the National Stadium in Lagos will wear a new look. But, while we embark on this massive project, we must also be strategic in our approach.

It is more inauspicious at this period the stadium business owners means of livelihood had been truncated for months by the COVID-19 lockdown and just when it seems to be easing and they are looking forward to returning to pick up their lives again, the government strikes to kill their hope with an eviction,” he said.

An aggrieved tenant, Odetola Rebecca, wondered the rush in giving tenants quit notice when the concessioning of the stadium had not yet been finalised.

“Everything about this country is all about the more you look, the less you see. There was no bidding process for the take over of the stadium, which is against due process. Come to think of it, many people have invested millions of their private funds into putting life into some of these dilapidated structures over the years. Is this is how the government wants to repay them?” Rebecca asked.

A special athlete (name withheld), who owns a shop inside the premises, wondered how the government expected them to deal with the emotional shock and economic implications.

“As a disabled athlete, with lesser attention from the government, I have been able to set up this small scale business to support myself and members of my family.

“Looking around, you will see that I am not just the only disabled athlete who has a shop where we sell soft drinks, stationery and other things needed by staff working inside the stadium, athletes as well as other visitors.

“The government should at least provide alternatives rather than an outright ejection. We have kids, aged parents, wives and extended family members who depend on us. Whatever affects our finances will definitely affect them,” the disabled athlete lamented.

A sports kit shop owner, Olufemi Adewale, on his part said, “It is not as we erected illegal structures to deface the stadium. We are bona fide occupants and rent paying tenants who got approval from the ministry before setting up our businesses. This seven days eviction notice is just too sudden. We appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to come to our aid.

“We have contributed in no small measure in driving traffic to the stadium through our legitimate business activities while we also pay our taxes. Rather than frustrate us out, the government should ask about the rents we pay and other revenues generated by the stadium management over the years and why the edifice was abandoned. If we are chased out like common criminals, I wonder how the government wants us to survive.”

According to findings, over 3,000 Nigerians may be directly affected if the businesses are chased out of the stadium.


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