The Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare has reiterated the commitment of the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s led government to upgrade all stadia and sports facilities across the country, including the National Stadium which will be rebranded to Wembley standard.
According to him, ‘’we are determined to upgrade the National Stadium to Wembley, we can have a Wembley here if we are commitment together with all the stakeholders’ to make sure that we bring the standard to the state of Wembley’’.
The Minister confirmed this in Lagos alongside with his host, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency, Babatunde Sanwo-Olu during facilities inspection visits to the National Stadium; Teslim Balogun and Onikan stadia in preparation for the FIFA inspection Team, as Nigeria bids for the hosting right of FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament next year.
Mr Sunday Dare commended the Lagos Governor, Sanwo-Olu and his Deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat who, inspite of the heavy rains, responded to the clarion call towards reinstating and restoring the glory of the nation’s dilapidated sports facilities across the country, including the National Stadium.
Confirming the stadia facilities inspecting visit as historical, the Minister stated that the nation is about to witness next level development as the present government is committed to upgrade; manage and effectively maintain sporting facilities in the nation.
‘’What you see today is the first step towards maintaining a national monument, which is the National Stadium. Exactly two weeks ago, I was here at this stadium and I made a promise that we will come back here with the Governor of Lagos state to evaluate and look at the national stadium with the aim of partnering together and make it a befitting world class standard ’’.
Sunday Dare added that necessary stakeholders like the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE); Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and of course, the Lagos Government as a major stakeholder are here to drive this process, stressing that this will in return signposts what will happen to other stadia across Nigeria.
Earlier in his opening address, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, H.E. Babatunde Sanwo-Olu, thanked the Honourable Minister, the Federal Government and relevant agencies that despite the heavy down pour, deemed it necessary to inspect the state of negligence and disuse of facilities especially at the National stadium, otherwise expected to be a pride monument of the nation.
According to Governor Sanwo-Olu ‘’what we are taking away from here is that the two organs of the federal government and Lagos state government have agreed that they will work with the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, and by extension the two government agencies i.e. BPE and ICRC will tell us the process that we must embark upon to ensure that a transparent process is being acted upon. So that we, as Lagos state government, who have indicated interest to manage these stadia/facilities and turn it into viable assets for our teeming youths, more so to the development of the sporting future of our dear country’’.
The Governor added that Lagos state is ready to participate in the process of ownership of these national monuments and turn it into an international asset that Nigerians will be proud off. He said ‘’ the infrastructure at the stadia is still very strong yet, we need to do a whole lot to revamp the standard into a world class for the benefit of all sport lovers in the industry ’’.
The Minister, Lagos State Governor and his Deputy were conducted round the facilities of the main bowl; indoor sports hall, media room of the National Stadium, Teslim Balogun and Onikan stadia respectively, ably led by the Stadium Manager, Kehinde Owopetu, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) 1st Vice Chairman, Seyi Akinwumi and other officials of the Ministry.
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