Stories by Paul Erewuba
Barely one week after Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode, offered to take over the National Stadium, some interests have moved to stall the process.
It was gathered that some interests have lobbied lawmakers to lead the opposition to the handover of the stadium to Lagos State. The federal lawmakers are expected to raise a motion stopping the process of handing over the stadium.
The source alleged that the same interests stalled the Lagos State government’s take over of the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, while lamented that those working against Lagos State from taking over the National Stadium did not have a clear plan to revamp and redevelop the stadium for optimal usage.
Sources revealed that part of the group’s plan is to invite the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung, for questioning, after which an order would be given for the suspension of the hand over process.
“This is unfair. The Federal Government handed over Enugu Stadium to the Enugu State government and Calabar Stadium to the Cross Rivers State government. Why should the case of Lagos State be different? Nigeria does not belong to one section alone,” a Lagos State government official said when contacted.
During Dalung’s inspection of the National Stadium last week, along side President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Mr. Amaju Pinnick and other top government functionaries, Governor Ambode had offered to take over the sport facility. His offer was sequel to the minister’s lamentation over the dilapidated condition of the stadium.
He had described the state of the national Stadium as a national disaster and called for comprehensive action to reposition it and return it to its pride of place.
Reacting to Ambode’s offer, minister expressed confidence in the ability of the Lagos state government to transform it, while thanking the governor for his interest and commitment to bring back the stadium to its former excellent condition.
Dalung had stated: “Whatever we can do to arrest the situation, we must do it. In my village, there is an adage, which says once there is fire disaster, there is no choice of liquid and any liquid that can contribute to extinguish the fire, must be mobilised including liquor. But today, we have a disaster and we must do everything possible to extinguish it.
“I want to thank Ambode for finding the time to come. I have received what I can call football gossip from the football federation that if the National Stadium, Surulere is handed over to Lagos and renovated in six months, the next match of Nigeria against Zambia would be played here.”