The National Stadium, Abuja, now renamed Moshood Abiola National Stadium, is in a state of disrepair following the failure of the government to maintain the facility, which has been taken over by weeds.
Findings indicate that many facilities at the complex, built at a whopping $360m in 2003, had deteriorated while the environment looked unkempt and rough with grasses growing all over the walkways and parking lot.
The sports complex was renamed Moshood Abiola in commemoration of the sacrifices of the winner of the June 12, 1993 election by President Muhammadu Buhari during the Democracy Day celebration in Abuja on Wednesday.
The 60,491-capacity stadium, which was constructed to host the 8th All Africa Games in October 2003, consists a covered main bowl; presidential suite and viewing area, 56 corporate suites, post office, banks, media facilities, two scoreboards and floodlights as well as shops and kiosks.
Other features include a helipad, 3000-capacity indoor sports hall, 2000-capacity gymnasium, 2000-capacity swimming arena, tennis courts, 3000-capacity hockey stadium and baseball and softball complex.
The MANS is also equipped with emergency service units and closed circuit security cameras, many of which are no longer functional.
Checks also revealed that about three out of the eight fire-fighting vehicles at the complex had broken down for many years.
One of our correspondents, who visited the Package A and B of the facility on Thursday, observed that the patchy football pitch had been abandoned and looked desolate.
While the tennis and hand ball courts appeared to be in fairly good conditions, the swimming pool showed signs of decay due to lack of maintenance.
Many of the seats at the spectators’ section have been badly damaged, while the bad ones were simply dumped on the top deck in a messy lump.
The facility, which had been turned to a grazing ground by herdsmen, had cattle droppings all over the surroundings of the indoor section of the stadium.
The Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, which is in charge of the facility, had earlier complained that its budget was not sufficient to maintain the stadium.
The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, Olusade Adesola, stated that the ministry’s 2018 budget, which he put at N116bn, “was not sufficient to paint the stadium,” noting that government was planning to concession the facility.
“The concession is on the table; in fact, we are working on a concession plan. I don’t know how long before it will materialise, but it’s a process and it’s on,” he stated.
Meanwhile, sports fans and analysts have reacted to the naming of the Abuja stadium after Abiola.
While some argued in favour of the renaming, others said the sporting facilities shouldn’t be named after politicians.
Among the reasons given by the fans for rejecting the renaming of the stadium were that a stadium in Abeokuta, Ogun State had earlier been named after Abiola, while the Abuja stadium was in a bad shape.
Ezeugo Akpan noted that “not everyone loves Abiola. We are united by sports. The FG should not divide us.”
“No sporting complex deserves to be named after a politician,” Kelechi Nkoro added.
Others also wondered why Buhari renamed the stadium after Abiola despite the its current dilapidated state.
Temitope Trotsky said, “In the last four years, what has Buhari done to revamp the stadium? Or is there no sports ministry in Buhari’s cabinet?”
Segun Psalm asked the Federal Government to renovate the stadium, saying that “It’s not about renaming the Abuja stadium to Abiola stadium, but renovating it to a standard stadium worthy of the name.”
Richmond described the naming as a “national disgrace”’
While some said it was not wrong for two stadiums to be named after a person, a majority rejected renaming another stadium after Abiola.
Delta Kahr, said, “What about the other MKO stadium? Maybe it should also be renamed to avoid confusion.”
“We already have MKO Abiola Stadium in Ogun State. Didn’t they check before this avoidable blunder again?” Ekenedilichukwu asked.
Charles Ntima said, “I am not angry by the way. I just wanted to know if it was possible for two stadiums capable of staging international games to bear the same name. That would be the first time I would have heard or seen such.”