About 16 years after it was abandoned, the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos is set to come alive again, as the Ministerial Implementation Committee on restoration of the complex is set to begin work next week.
The last major football tournament held at the National Stadium, Lagos was the Four-Nation LG Cup in 2004. Senegal won the tournament, beating Nigeria 1-0. Since then, the stadium has changed from a monument of national pride to a symbol of ‘official neglect and mismanagement,’ with the hallowed turf in a terrible state, while the seats and tartan tracks cry for replacement. The media centre of the stadium complex is an eyesore.
However, in an effort to bring the stadium back to life, Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, appointed former AFN Technical Director, Retired Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama, as co-chairman alongside the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mr. Gabriel Aduda, to head the Ministerial Committee to implement the recommendations of the Task Force earlier set up on June 9, 2020.
The committee, which has its membership drawn from the ministry, private sector, stakeholders and the security services, was inaugurated on Monday.
Nesiama told newsmen on Thursday that the ‘restoration’ work would begin immediately.
“We are starting our work immediately as it is a matching order,” Nesiama said. “The work will begin by removing illegal occupants and structures. A phased approach is being worked on by the committee to address the myriad of issues currently affecting the stadium’s Master Plan.”
He continued: “It is too early to start talking about the type and extent of renovation work to expect as developments overtime would unfold as we proceed. But basically, we want to make the National Stadium very attractive for concession to take place later. We have to bring the stadium back to its glory days.”
Apart from the bad pitch and dilapidated structures, the National Stadium, Lagos needs a befitting dressing room, toilets, among others.
Nesiama thanked the minister for the confidence reposed in the members and assured that they would work assiduously to deliver on the terms of reference given to them.