BY GODWIN AIKIGBE
Minister of Youth Development and Sports, Solomon Dalung was never sincere about handing over the dilapidated National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos to Lagos State Government.
Fiery critic and former Chairman Gombe State Football Association, Shuaibu Gara Gombe Ahmed made this observation in a post on Facebook.
Gara revealed that he resigned from the committee set up to facilitate the process of handing over the facility to the Akinwunmi Ambode-led government after realizing the minister was not following the due process.
His post read: “Solomon Dalung thinks everyone is a fool. He wanted to use us to deceive Governor Ambode that he wanted to hand over the National Stadium to him.
“Unknown to us and Ambode he had sliced the stadium and concession everything to his business partner OJEYS against the Public Procurement Act and due process principle.
“The worst part of it is that he concession the Gates to Ojeyz one week after Ambode inspected the stadium. Now you want to concession a house to someone but the gates to the house is under someone else’s control. Does that make sense?
“Swimming pool, Games Village, gate, boxing gym and handball gym were fraudulently concession. Those who control them how did they get them? Was the Concession advertised? How Ojeyz did lent Federal Govt to complete the swimming pool? Who asked Dalung to borrow money from Ojeyz on behalf of federal government?
“When we went to Lagos, I asked how the minister can send us to Lagos without the legal adviser of the Ministry. Where was the head of facility of the Ministry? Why is it that the zonal sports officer of the Ministry was not with us?
“The man wanted to use us to collect money from Ambode. He was not sincere at all. If you investigate the National Stadium scandal Dalung will be in jail. I swear to God. I told Ambode the truth and I said I am not interested in that committee fraud. Dalung is not sincere. This is our Minister of Sports. I left the committee.”
The Lagos State Government had in March, 2017 declared its readiness to take over facility from the Federal Government and transform it into a world-class sporting center.
The multi-purpose stadium, which comprises an Olympic-size swimming arena and a multipurpose arena used for basketball, volleyball, table tennis, wrestling and boxing matches, has been a deplorable condition for years.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who inspected the facilities in the stadium, alongside Dalung; the President of Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Pinnick; and other top government functionaries, decried the decrepit state of the edifice.
He said it was unfortunate how things had degenerated, but expressed preparedness to hit the ground running towards restoring the stadium’s past glory once it’s officially handed over to the state.
The governor said repositioning the stadium would create employment for residents in the state.
He said, “This visit is very historic. I recall that during our campaign, we promised that we are going to use tourism, entertainment and arts and sports to drive youth employment as well as drive excellence. So, this is just one chapter in that roadmap to growing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Lagos.
“With the state of affairs here, we cannot fold our arms and just leave this monument to just waste away. The last match that was played here was about fifteen years ago, but the truth is this, the inner key to youth empowerment and youth employment is actually in re-establishing this edifice to its real-world class standard.”
Dalung expressed confidence in the ability of the State Government to transform stadium.
He said, “We have gone round and we have seen the edifice in a sorry state. Whatever we can do to arrest the situation, we must do it. In my village, there is an adage, which says once there is fire disaster, there is no choice of liquid and any liquid that can contribute to extinguishing the fire, must be mobilized including liquor. But today, we have a disaster and we must do everything possible to extinguish it.
“I want to thank the Governor for finding time to come. I have received what I can call football gossip from football federation that if the Surulere Stadium is handed over to Lagos and renovated in six months, the next match of Nigeria against Zambia would be played here.”
Some of the facilities inspected at the Stadium include the Molade Okoya Tennis Hall, 3000 Capacity Multi-Purpose Indoor Sports Hall, Beach Soccer Pitch, Synthetic Football Pitch and the 38,000 Capacity Main Bowl Football Field.