A legal obstacle to stop Lagos State’s plan to save the National Stadium is being planned. A motion to stop the takeover of the troubled national edifice in Surulere, Lagos mainland by the state government may be moved at the House of Representatives today, sources said.
Some “powerful interests” are believed to have lobbied National Assembly members to abort the Federal Government’s plan to hand over the stadium to Lagos.
A source said: “The same people worked against the Lagos State Government when it initiated the plan to take over the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Had it been TBS was handed over to Lagos, the square would have been given total transformation.”
The source regretted that those working against the takeover by Lagos State do not have a better plan to transform the stadium.”
“They are only targeting the parcels of land within and around the National Stadium complex. They do not have any plan to really redevelop the facility which has been completely abandoned and become dilapidated,” the source added.
Minister of Youth and Sports Solomon Dalung, who inspected the stadium along with Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, may be invited by the lawmakers to explain the planned handover— all in a bid to to stop the state government from taking over the facility”.
The source said the plan will be resisted.
“The plan will not be allowed at all. It will be unjust and unfair to stop the process and deny Lagos State from taking over the facility which is within its territory. The Federal Government has already handed over Kaduna Stadium to the Kaduna State Government.
“The Federal Government also handed over Enugu Stadium to the Enugu State Government and Calabar Stadium to the Cross Rivers State Government. Why should the case of Lagos State be different? Nigeria does not belong to one section alone. We will fight this out,” the source said.
It was learnt that the powerful entities close to the National Assembly, Presidency and some lawmakers intend to compel Dalung to suspend the handing over process.
The powerful interests who lobbied the lawmakers to stop the process may be seeking to take over the stadium on concession and are therefore keen to stop its handover to Lagos, it was learnt.
The Lagos State Government last week declared its readiness to take over the National Stadium from the Federal Government and transform it into a world-class sporting centre.
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 in a deplorable condition for years.
Governor Ambode inspected the facilities along with Dalung, Nigeria Football Federation President Amaju Pinnick and other top government functionaries.
He decried the decrepit state of the edifice, saying it was unfortunate how things had degenerated.
The governor expressed the state’s readiness to hit the ground running towards restoring the stadium’s past glory once it’s officially handed over to it.
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 15 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 state’s ability 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 that once there is fire disaster, there is no choice of liquid and any liquid that can contribute to extinguishing the fire must be mobilised including liquor. 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 the 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.”