|National stadium or national shame
It is no longer a tale whenever the issue of poor management of infrastructure in the country is being discussed. So sad is the fact that stakeholders that are supposed to take decisions pay lip service even when funds are released for the purpose.
Magnificent, beautiful and fantastic were some of the words used to describe the Abuja National Stadium when it was commissioned in 2003 for the purpose of the All Africa Games at the cost of over 54 billion naira.
Nine years after, the stadium is in a very pathetic state and a first time visitor might not be wrong if he calls it an abandoned project or a farmyard. So shambolic is the structure that the steel in some parts of it is beginning to grow weeds, while the grass is now overgrown that it may soon transform to a sugar cane plantation.
Why is Nigeria so quick to award contracts for gigantic projects when the culture of maintenance is lacking. There are similar cases all over the federation, but this is absolutely shameful and unacceptable.
The Brazilians had defeated the Super Eagles in this stadium and were glad to have played on the pitch that now looks like a forest. Manchester United, Portsmouth and other great football clubs and national teams once played on the ‘imported’ grass. Now what we have there is a ‘beautiful home grown’ grass that may measure 6 feet even before this piece goes to the press.
Indeed, the problem at the stadium is national. Power supply has been cut off for a long time and the facility is now being maintained in futility by the management of the Federal Capital Authority.
What a shame! The management of Arsenal Football Club of England did not dilly-dally before calling off their pre-season trip to Nigeria. No doubt, players like Oxlade- chamberlain and Theo Walcott would have gone back with ‘monkey yansh or kobo.’
The railings are rusty, the doors are broken and the stadium is in a shambles. Corruption, sorry, corrosion, is having a sweet experience on the metals at the stadium.
However, it is pertinent to note that almost all the major stadia in the country are currently not well maintained due to the high level of maladministration.
A call was put through to the manager of the stadium whose response was unsatisfactory.
“A lot has been said about the stadium, but I will advise that people should go there and see it,’’ he said.
It is a shame that most parts of the stadia used for the FIFA U-20 and U-17 World Cup in 1999 and 2009 are now in a bad state.
A visit to the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos, replicates the
stadia in Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Makurdi and one can keep counting. The
shameful arena is littered with used sachets and plastic bottles of
alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Worse still, the entrance of the
spectators’ stands welcomes one with the smell of urine and faeces.
It is not a surprise that Nigeria has failed woefully in recent age
grade competitions because the facilities are not well managed and the
youths are not encouraged by the poor standard of infrastructure.
Creativity and football artistry cannot thrive in a dirty arena.
The pitch of the main bowl is no longer green, but filled with weeds and stones. The plastic seats are either broken or removed. One can easily see the damaged cables of the scoreboard. The floodlight lamps are incomplete they have been damaged and some completely removed.
Attempts to reach the manager failed as her phone was switched off, while some of the workers declined comments.
Some officials should be questioned and immediate answers provided for the poor state of our stadia. The Federal Government must take quick steps to correct the trend and set up modalities to ensure that infrastructure development and maintenance form the core values of governance.