Wednesday, 4th October 2023

Sports minister under fire over N21b request to fix National Stadium

By Gowon Akpodonor
12 April 2023   |   5:17 am
Nigerians have questioned Sports Minister, Sunday Dare’s claim that the Federal Government will require over N21 billion to fix the National Stadium, Lagos, which has already gulped $1 million of renovation fee.

Sunday Dare

Lagos spent N2.3b on Onikan rehabilitation

Nigerians have questioned Sports Minister, Sunday Dare’s claim that the Federal Government will require over N21 billion to fix the National Stadium, Lagos, which has already gulped $1 million of renovation fee.

They argued that the minister’s quoted amount could build a new stadium from scratch.

The Guardian recently highlighted the sorry state of the Lagos National Stadium, eliciting disenchantment of the general public over the poor handling of the national monument.

Following the furore that trailed the story, the minister flew into Lagos to inspect the complex, and thereafter, addressed journalists on the steps taken so far by his administration to bring the stadium back to life.

Dare disclosed that it would cost about N40 billion to renovate the National Stadium, adding, however, that if he gets N21 billion for the job, he will manage it.

Questioning the figures, former Green Eagles’ winger, Adegoke Adelabu, a sports scientist, said the money is enough to build a new stadium with modern facilities.

“It is outrageous,” Adelabu said in a message to The Guardian. “How many times will the government rebuild the National Stadium? We need to ask who is collecting money from the people doing business inside the stadium. The institute within it is under-utilised.

“I know that people collect tickets to come into the stadium. So, who are the people involved? Who do they account to? I think the sports minister should forget such unproductive ideas, which I know that Nigerians will not tolerate. More so, we are the only country who runs sports at a loss,” he stated.

Adelabu said he had never heard of any project embarked upon by the sports ministry to develop athletes, querying, “why does the sports minister want the stadium repaired when we don’t have any development project?

“They should tell us how the stadium would generate the money spent on it. What is our current position in revenue generation from sports in different states? All we are doing is to spend money. I am sure they are all lying about the amount spent on fixing the stadium, and the money needed by the sports minister is a joke. How can they ask for such an amount of money for an existing stadium?

“I learnt that Baba Ijebu has already spent about $1million to fix some portions of the stadium. Even when we built Abuja stadium, foreign press that came for the competition said it was the costliest stadium in the world, but the ball could not roll on the grass when it rained. We don’t have such money to be wasted again.”

The Chairman of Gombe State Athletics Association, Ahmed Gombe Shuaibu, commended The Guardian for exposing the rot in government. “All of the comments I am reading have not dissected the very investigative journalism issues raised by The Guardian. Many are trying to defend the minister as if he did the nation a favour.

“When he came, he announced that he would fix the two stadiums through adopt-a-stadium initiative with Aliko Dangote and Baba Ijebu as sponsors. Dare made so much noise about it. He managed to fix the MKO Abiola Stadium under very controversial circumstances and without transparency,” he stated.

Work ongoing with the laying of tartan tracks at the National Stadium, Surulere

Gombe said he was expecting the ministry to announce the reopening of the Lagos stadium after assuring Nigerians “that it will be delivered soon. Dare even captured it as Buhari’s achievement while presenting his scorecard.

“Unknown to many, until The Guardian came up with the true situation, Dare wanted to sneak away on May 29 without delivering the stadium. How on earth can this same man take us for a ride by saying he needs N22 billion to deliver the stadium? So, what did Dare show to Baba Ijebu, and what were the terms of the MoU between him and Baba Ijebu?  If not for The Guardian, will Nigerians ever know that Dare lied to us? Could Nigerians ever know that they need to cough out N22 billion to fix the Stadium?”

He advised the minister to apologise to the traders that lost their stalls in the stadium since he could not achieve the purpose of chasing them away.

On his part, Sunday Agunbiade, a sports journalist, said: “It’s high time some of us started writing open letters to President Muhammadu Buhari, via National Dailies, not to approve this figure for the minister.

“The message should be directed to the president-elect. The Liberty Stadium, Ibadan, is an eye sore. The National Stadium, Surulere, is a haven for rodents and snakes. Even the Abuja stadium he did has been condemned by the Super Eagles. The Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo is far better than the stadium he claimed he spent millions of dollars to renovate,” Agunbiade stated.
Meanwhile, TrackaNG has revealed that the sum of N2.3 billion was paid to Slavabogu Nig Ltd for the upgrading/reconstruction of Onikan Stadium (now Mobolaji Johnson Stadium), Lagos.

A twitter message, yesterday, said: “We tracked the project and reported that the construction work is still ongoing. This project is in the LASG 2022 budget.”

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