Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi has expressed concern over the deplorable state of the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos.
Despite the fact that some of the facilities at the stadium are being used to host some events of the National Sports Festival, there were no major changes witnessed at the venues in terms of facelift.
Speaking at one of the facilities in deplorable condition, the Boxing Arena, which is incidentally hosting the weightlifting events, Mallam Abdullahi revealed that strategic plans are being made on how to manage all the national stadia across the federation.
“Of course I’m concerned, but the concern is not just with specific arena, generally it’s about the whole National Stadium itself. The National Stadium has suffered great neglect over the years and that is why it’s mandatory on us now to find alternative strategy for managing the National Stadium. The President has directed us to come up with a model for managing the National Stadia across the country, so of course with the main focus on Lagos. So I’m confident that if we are able to make progress on that, some of these things will be taken care of.
“Even more personally, if you look at the festival itself, this is the biggest national sporting event, but we’ve not been able to attract the right profile of sponsorship and funding that should come to event like this. Lagos State has spent, I understand, close to 7 billion naira to host the event, how many states in Nigeria can do that and that is why we’ve announced now that it is going to be an open competition because if it becomes an open competition, it means that your top athletes from all over the world can come and compete here. So that itself will make the event even more glamorous, so more funding will come in, then you can also invest some of that into improving the quality of facilities that we have and attract the right kind of sponsor. These are some of the approaches we have to look at. I absolutely agree with you it should be better than this.”
Assessing the hosting of the ongoing 18th edition of the National Sports Festival, the minister said, “So far it has gone very well, the sport event that has hosted more than 10,000 athletes, even the Olympics does not have 10,000 athletes. So the sheer logistics is quite challenging. But so far it has gone quite well and I’m also excited by what I’ve seen in the arenas today. I’ve gone to the boxing arena and I can see the atmosphere is charged and here too is well attended and we have seen a couple of athletes here that look very promising especially in the female boxing arena. And I have a team that is going round all events and looking at this kind of opportunity to identify some athletes that we can invite after the event.”