April, 20 2023.
The Youth and Sports Development Ministry has reacted to Monday's collapse of one of the gigantic masts, bearing a literny of flood lights for the dis-functional national stadium in Surulere, Lagos.
The stadium which was built in the early 1970s, and was inaugurated by the government of Gen. Yakubu Gowon as venue for the hosting of the 1st edition of the national sports festival in 1973, was also the nest of the senior men's national side, the Green Eagles and also hosted several Challenge Cup matches and finals, as well as major events in other facets of sports, hence the name "Sports City".
Only about a week ago, the Minister of Sports, Honourable Sunday Dare while giving an update on the ongoing efforts by the ministry under his watch to refurbish obsolete stadiums and sports facilities, estimated that the ongoing work at the national stadium in Lagos will gulp an additional N21 billion, before the edifice which has been abandoned and neglected for at least 19 years now, can be fully brought back to life.
But rather than reason alongside the honourable Minister, many critics jumped at it, by questioning both the veracity of the figure and timing of the request, considering the fact that the tenure of Chief Dare as Minister of sports, was fast running out.
While the scrutiny was still going on, mother nature in the form of a heavy rain and windstorm, inflicted more destruction on the stadium, which is being renovated in parts after nearly two decades of abandonment.
The gigantic mast that held a litany of floodlight lamps, crashed heavily. Happily, other than making a bad situation worse, no life was lost as a result of the ugly incident, which was one of the 17 components of the 51 year old facility, not covered by the ongoing rehabilitation work.
To properly put the need to regularly maintain our sports facilities, as being championed by the Sports Minister and to mildly respond to nay sayers, who thinks it is out of place to spend huge amount of money to renovate stadiums, the Manchester City example should suffice.
Only this week the Board of Manchester City, wrote the Council seeking permission to upscale the Etihad Stadium from 60,000 to 67,000 seats. The figures for this project has been put at $317 million US dollars, and a substantial percentage of the total sum is reserved for the routine rehabilitation or maintenance of parts of the facility, which at present is top notch and ranked amongst the top 5 stadiums, in England.
This underscores the need to inculcate a variable and sustainable maintenance culture, as every structure is liable to wear and tear, once put into use. Nigeria should therefore, brace up to this fact and cannot afford to continue playing the Ostrich.