The Minister of Sports Development, Sen. John Enoh, on Thursday could not hide his emotion over the sorry state of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, saying, “I weep for this place, I earnestly weep.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Minister was on a facility tour of the stadium to have a first hand information on the iconic sports centre built in 1973.
NAN also reports that it took the minister almost three hours to go round every facility in the stadium; from the entrance to the mainbowl, the hostel, boxing, wrestling, para and athletics gyms.
The minister also visited the tennis court, swimming pool arena, media room where a programme was ongoing, indoor sports hall, table tennis hall, among others.
Enoh, after the inspection, addressed the media at the Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC) Boardroom where he expressed his reservations and decried the parlous state of the 55-seater capacity stadium.
“Today, I am here at National Stadium, Surulere. The facility, I weep for; I earnestly weep for this place.
“I have gone round and have seen different sports and I have had the chance to watch a live game of basketball at the indoor sports hall sponsored by an individual.
“I made a brief comment and said that private sector is the way to grow sports, while government only needs to give direction.
“This country is greatly indebted to personalities like Alhaji Aliko Dangote for using his personal funds to fix MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja, and Sir Kessington Adebutu’s efforts to fix National Stadium, Surulere,” he said.
Enoh added: “I can imagine how it would have been if I found this place in a mess without the electronic scoreboard, tartan track and the field of the stadium not fixed.
“The state of the stadium would have been worse, and I could have wept more. This facility is the one used for the All African Games in 1973, but it has gone through a lot.
“This state of the stadium shouldn’t be a symbol of our sport, especially in a city referred to as ‘Sport City.’
“I am glad that the process towards the eventual concessioning of this facility has gone far, and if that is what is going to take this facility back to its lost glory, I will endorse it 100 per cent.
“I was also told about the botched maintenance of MKO Abiola Stadium agreement with Julius Berger and if we are not careful, and do something quickly, Abuja Stadium will suffer the same fate with Lagos.”
Enoh said the reason for having a stand alone ministry of sports by President Bola Tinubu was to give the sector the attention it required as a base for social inclusion.
“I thank God that President Tinubu provided for the Ministry of Sports, so that matters affecting the sector can be discussed more directly and specifically.
“I have come to this job with a passion that characterised my person and I think what this ministry needs is leadership. Perhaps, I don’t necessarily need to be a sportsman to be a minister in charge of sports.
“What I need is passion and commitment to provide leadership and I have no doubt that I am going to get support from the president because he personally insisted that I be made minister of sport.
“There must a purpose for my being in sports because there is no sector that can galvanise the grassroots of this country more than sports, and as a platform for social inclusion for the downtrodden,” he said.
Source: News Agency of Nigeria