Football lovers across the country have expressed hope that the nation’s majestic sports complex in Abuja will now receive a major face lift, after President Muahmmadu Buhari on Wednesday renamed the unkempt and dilapidated edifice as Moshood Abiola National Stadium.
Buhari’s declaration in honour of the well-acclaimed winner of the 1993 presidential election came on the first ever official commemoration of June 12 as Democracy Day in Nigeria, but a cross-section of fans across the country believe the stadium has to be befitting for its new image.
In the wake of Buhari’s pronouncement, many Nigerian sports followers took to social media to hail the announcement, but equally urged the president to ensure he follows up by ensuring that the name change will bring about a face-lift for the dilapidated stadium.
This may, therefore, turn out to be a focal point for Barrister Solomon Dalung, who is expected to return for a second four-year tenure as sports minister, but he threw up his hands in surrender of the stadium during his first term in charge of the ministry.
In December last year, Dalung openly declared that the Federal Ministry of Youth & Sports is incapable of turning round the huge edifice for the better, due to lack of sufficient funds for the purpose.
The ministry’s permanent secretary, Olusade Adesola added that their inability to maintain the stadium was due to a N2bn annual maintenance bill presented by German civil construction firm, Julius Berger, which build the arena in 2003, ahead of the All Africa Games back then.
Adesola disclosed: “Julius Berger submitted a maintenance fee of two billion naira annually and this is more than the ministry’s yearly budget.
“We cannot afford such money annually, but we are working hard to find alternative ways to keep the place tidy.
“We are looking at the option of concession (for up keep of the facilities) to individuals and companies who could manage the place for a period.
“The complex has to be busy with activities keep it in good condition usage.”