*Dalung made it more desolate, abandoned
By Oluwole Francis
Watching the imposing stature of the Abuja National Stadium as a first time coming into the city, it carries a beautiful architecture good to the eyes. If such a visitor gets into the facility, it will be best described as an eyesore.
The football pitch which had hosted several national team engagements will give a follower of football reason to mourn, wail and anguish like the biblical Ruth, inconsolably.
The lush green grasses the stadium is reputed for has turned brown. Poverty of maintenance has hit it. It is obvious that it is getting worse. Until recently, the stadium was in darkness. Beyond all these, there is practically no live there.
Sadly, the Minister for Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, has offered to stay in the federal secretariat thus most of his staffers naturally drifted to their alternative offices in the secretariat to be close to the fulcrum of power. These are mathematical functions for the call for a return of the National Sports Commission (NSC).
Former Minister for Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi had almost completed the entire movement of the personnel to the sports city before he was relieved of his work. That decision was one of the best taken because it brought life and activities to the facility that was built in 2003 for over N60billion.
A bigger contradiction is that, at the time of our visit, there were only three gardeners working on the pitch. They are re-planting the grasses. There is no water in the stadium to wet the pitch.
Stinking toilet facilities: Due to lack of water, all the toilets visited in the stadium have been messed up. In many instances, urine and faeces are seen either inside the water system bowl or on the ground hence the whole place smells and stinks.
The situation has improved. The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, (AEDC Plc) for almost two years disconnected the stadium because they refused to pay their bills.
Unkempt and dirty environment: The under utilisation of the facilities has also left it to a practically orphan treatment. The stadium is littered especially the mainbowl, with debris. The seats are covered by brown dust showing the age of when last it was used. A staff who confided in www.gongnews.net said the last time the stadium was swept was when a church service was held here. Cobwebs have gotten the safest havens to string their webs. They have taken over the place.
A parent who brought his daughter for athletics training on the practise pitch, Ayobami Emmanuel, took a stroll to the pitch inside the mainbowl. He said, “the best thing would have been to make the stadium a national monument and museum rather than continue to leave the facility unattended.
Chances are that the Abuja National Stadium is struggling to join the National Stadium in Surulere. The seats at the mainbowl are also getting cracked out of its not being used. They are looking too old. The seats at the VIP lounge are worse hit.
The tartan tracks are already gone. Some of the tracks have opened up becoming threats to the health of athletes who run on it. The track which used to be lush red is now torn, looking dirty and black. It is obvious that the last national athletics trial on the track was a terrible risk.
Information available to www.gongnews.net has it that minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung, only breezes into the office once in three months and stays less than 15 minutes.
During the era of Bolaji Abdullahi and Dr Tamuno Danagogo as Ministers of Sports, they operate from the stadium hence the stadium was in top shape including the pitch. Some offices of the ministry of sports and that of sporting federations were also operating from the stadium hence there was life in the stadium.
There was light, water and the stadium was always kept clean. The security of the stadium was a bit tighter compare to what is obtainable now where properties and people’s belongings are stolen at will.
We gathered that the stadium is its present bad shape because the minister was said to have claimed that there was no money to maintain the stadium but it is a well-known fact that monies were made from the usage of the stadium.
Recalled that religious outfits like the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Deeper Life Bible Ministries and other organisations pay huge sums of money running into millions of Naira to make use of the stadium unaccounted for.
If something is not urgently done concerning the present state of the Abuja National Stadium, then we might see another Lagos National Stadium in the making which has since been abandoned because of the new singsong: “no money.”