Sports Development Minister, John Owan-Enoh, has said that the Federal Government might pull down the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos, to rebuild and bring it to a functional state. Own-Enoh, who had earlier said he would go ahead with the planned concession of the facility, noted that the government would only take the path that would breathe life into the nearly moribund edifice. The National Stadium, which was built in 1972 ahead of the All Africa Games in 1973, has not functioned effectively for over 15 years due to poor maintenance of the facilities.
The immediate past Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, through his adopt-a-facility programme, was able to secure a private sector-government partnership that saw Chief Adebutu Kessington fixing the tartan tracks, the football pitch, and the scoreboard.
Speaking at a meeting with stakeholders in Lagos on Friday, Owan-Enoh said he had been forced to give a second thought to the planned concessioning given the state of the facility, adding, however, that government would take the best possible option. He said: “Of course, I said on Thursday that I would support the concession of the National Stadium in Lagos, but after discussions, thereafter, I also think about the possibility of bringing down the stadium because the creative industry has benefitted from such arrangements with the National Arts Theatre in Lagos.
“So, we are going to have further discussions about the issue of the concession. “The Abuja Stadium is also going bad and if we are not careful, it could get to the state the Lagos facility is in currently.” He promised to operate an open-door policy and carry every federation along to ensure the overall development of all sports, adding that both the male and female athletes, as well the physically challenged would be given equal attention.
The minister said: “I am taking on a sports sector that is in its worst shape. The sports sector offers so much, but is it going to remain a potential or do we have people willing to change it to a sector that works? “I have discovered that Nigerian sports has a funding problem, trust issues and facility problem and they are all interwoven. If we solve the trust problem, we can unleash the other two. Sports problems are enormous, but not insurmountable.
“I have succeeded in all the things I have done so far, and I want to make a success of this new challenge.”