‘We’ll return Lagos National Stadium to symbol of pride’
• Shop owners grumble over seven-day eviction notice
The Ministerial Implementation Committee on ‘Restoration’ of Lagos National Stadium has promised to do everything possible to return the complex to its original design.
Since 2004, the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos, has been abandoned with virtually all aspects of the complex, including the seats, tartan tracks, turf and the media centre crying for replacement.
From the second term of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to the administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, through the regime of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, all failed in their promises to bring the complex back to its original state as a monument of national pride. But the new committee says the dream will come true this time.
Already, a seven-day eviction notice has been given to ‘illegal occupants’ to vacate the premises by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development. The seven-day notice, which commenced on Monday, is expected to end on August 24.
The co-chairman of the Ministerial Committee on ‘Restoration’ of the Lagos National Stadium, former Technical Director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Retired Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama, says, “the process of taking the National Stadium, Lagos to its original symbol of national pride has just begun. It will be the responsibility of all Nigerians,” Nesiama told The Guardian yesterday.
Since the outbreak of the dreaded coronavirus in March this year, the Lagos National Stadium has been placed under lock, with usual business activities and visitors kept at bay.
But Nesiama, who is co-chairman of the committee alongside the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mr. Gabriel Aduda, hinted yesterday that shop owners affected by the eviction notice have been granted permission into the complex to move away their belongings before the expiration of the deadline.
“They should comply with us because as soon as we move in to commence work, there will be no room for people to have such freedom. The National Stadium, Lagos is our pride, and government is not happy with its present condition. We want to make it a befitting place,” Nesiama stated.
When The Guardian visited the National Stadium complex yesterday afternoon, some shop owners were seen moving out their belongings amidst grumble that the seven-day eviction order was not enough.
One of the shop owners, who gave his name as Chukwudi, said: “We don’t have a choice than to obey the order, but I must confess that the seven days notice is not enough. Some of us have been operating here for years, and we don’t have any other place to do our business for now. I am moving my sports wears to Ojuelegba to avoid being destroyed by the bulldozers on August 24.”It was not clear yesterday if the eviction order will affect the likes of O’jez Restaurant and Old Skool joint.