Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung is adamant that he has not given up his plans to resuscitate the National Stadium in Lagos, which last hosted an international competition in 2006.
Since then the stadium has been abandoned to rot by successive leadership of the sports ministry. The current highlight of that once glorious building are religious conventions and ram-fighting competitions. (below)
Speaking on the prospects of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in 2019, Dalung correctly insisted that Nigerian athletes would do better in the new year if facilities needed for training were upgraded.
“Infrastructural update should be cardinal in 2019. We must fix the National Stadium in Surulere Lagos. If we fix the place, you cannot imagine the number of young people that will be employed as a result and it will improve the economy of Lagos state.
“I have not given up on the renovation of the National Stadium because we are still running a concession process. We only have some budgetary constraints but we have included the final phase in the budget of 2019.
“Once the budget is passed, we will pick up again because, for me, one of the things that I am determined to do before I leave office is to ensure the conclusion of the concession of some of these projects so that we can move the private sector to invest and transform it.”
Dalung also disclosed that the Ministry would prepare athletes ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, adding that training would also take the front burner in 2019.
“Development of athletes, training and retraining of athletes in preparation for the 2020 Olympics is a priority in 2019. Competition for qualification by National Federations is also a priority in 2019,” he said.
Dalung revealed that there would be a stakeholders’ meeting to herald the new year, adding, “we will invite speakers, who will cite test cases of other climes and our local peculiarity to educate us on funding of sports.
“I also expect that this year, more states will adopt more sports based on their athletes’ comparative advantage.”
Nigeria won her first Afcon title at the stadium in 1980 when it was a state of the art monument. (below)