Reactions have continued to trail the state of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, one year after it was named after the presumed winner of the 1993 presidential election, Moshood Abiola.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had in a broadcast on June 12, 2019 renamed the National Stadium, Abuja in honour of Abiola.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that the stadium, which was built at a whopping $360m to host the African Games in 2003, had deteriorated while the environment looked unkempt and rough with grasses growing all over the walkways and parking lot.
Findings by our correspondent showed that the state of the stadium has not improved since the name was changed.
A walk round the stadium, showed everywhere grown with weeds, while the main bowl and other sporting arenas are in a despicable state.
Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, on Tuesday celebrated the one-year anniversary of the stadium’s renaming, with the sports ministry installing a signpost with the stadium’s name at the entrance of the arena.
Some Nigerians, who commented on the installation, decried the inability of the sports ministry to renovate the stadium.
A worker at the stadium, who spoke on a condition of anonymity, said they were not happy that nothing had been done concerning the state of the stadium.
“Since the change of name of the Abuja National Stadium to Moshood Abiola Stadium by the President, the edifice has been left unkempt.
“The sports minister in October 2019 promised that business mogul, Aliko Dangote, was willing to adopt the main bowl, nothing has been heard about that as at today,” our source said.
Other Nigerians, who replied to Dare’s post on Twitter, also asked the ministry to renovate the stadium.
“I am your fan, but sir, you are more than inspecting the plaque. What’s the update about the pitch itself? The swimming pool, the environment that looks like zoological garden. I was there late last year, it was an eyesore,” Collins Olaniyan said.
Dan Babs also tweeted, “Please sir, is the pitch now playable? For now, this christening has no meaning. June 12 was a movement, you cannot just name one abandoned structure after a main hero. Please make good of your earlier promise, revive the stadium.”
“What about the main bowl itself and particularly the pitch sir? The Super Eagles have not played in #Abuja for over 5 years and we miss them,” Nazif Abdullah added.
“Good but you can do better by cutting the bush away. The place is bushy,” Msoo Nyaga.
The Special Adviser on Media to the sports minister, John Joshua-Akanji, said the coronavirus pandemic was responsible for the inability of the ministry to renovate the stadium.
“Whatever is happening, COVID-19 has led to the stoppage in everything,” Joshua-Akanji told The PUNCH.
“Also, for every company there is a process with which things are done, so, there is already an ongoing process, which as a result of COVID-19, had to be truncated. So, nothing can happen until after COVID-19.
“Where would the money (to take care of the stadium) come from, when you know that the government has already cut budget, every other thing all over the world was stopped as a result of the pandemic, not just the stadium. COVID-19 stopped everybody in their tracks. Even if there was money budgeted or approved, where is the money coming out from?
“COVID-19 has truncated a lot of things. There were a lot of things lined up, but COVID-19 stopped a lot of things,” he added.
Moshod Abiola Stadium Abuja | e-nigeriang.com