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Abuja 2018


Sir Rols

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A third failed Nigerian drugs test as well...

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For Nigeria's sake, they hope that their track and field doesn't end up like the American debacle from a decade ago. It would be very devastating for them if their best track athlete (Blessing Okabare) failed a drug test.

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  • 1 year later...

Hmmmmmm. So much for the most "well-equipped potential sports hosting city on earth" ...

The Growing Indifference towards Sports Infrastructure in Nigeria

Neglected, withered, dilapidated; these are not words the President Obasanjo administration would have expected to hear about the National Stadium in the near future. When the contract for its construction was awarded on July 18, 2000, the federal government had in mind the picture of a truly international ‘Games Village’ – one that will have all the facilities any sports festival would require. When Nigeria hosted the 8th All Africa Games in October, 2003, the ultramodern arena came alive; filled to its capacity with 60,491 persons, Nigerians and other Internationals praised the stadium as ‘Nigeria’s greatest architectural landmark’ and ‘Africa’s most corporate stadium’. However, a look at its current state reveals a structure which, if allowed to continue in that state, will soon be a national disgrace.

Besides occasional sporting, religious or social engagements inside the main bowl, most of the stadium now lies fallow, the swimming pool is without water, the Velodrome is falling apart, the grass on the pitch of the main bowl has withered because water supply has been cut off from the stadium complex due to nonpayment of water bills, and then the recent vandalization of the electric cable that supplies light to the National Stadium, reported to be about 1 kilometer long and worth N35 million. The National stadium is fast losing its place as Nigeria’s best destination for sporting events. Recently, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) made the decision to shift a couple of international football matches involving the Super Eagles from the National Stadium to alternative venues – the Namibia vs. Rwanda World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on June 3 and June 16, 2012 respectively have been shifted to the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna.

Motivation came for writing this article on Tuesday, March 27, 2012; when, after his investiture as the Grand Patron of the Nigerian Olympic Committee at the Ladi Kwali Hall of Sheraton Hotel, Abuja; I heard President Goodluck Jonathan call on Team Nigeria to go all out for medals at the 2012 London Olympic Games. He told them to surpass Nigeria’s best outing, which was at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games where Nigeria won two gold medals, one from Women’s Long Jump and the other from Men’s Football. This got me thinking: If we don’t have the capacity to manage what is described as our most critical sports infrastructure, how do we logically expect our dream ‘Team Nigeria’ to replicate the victories of Chioma Ajunwa, Kano Nwanko and co. that won gold medals for Nigeria in the 1996 Olympics? The mention of Chioma Ajunwa evokes painful thoughts as to how we as a country treat our past sporting heroes; I wouldn’t be tempted to discuss this, it’s an article on its own. Doesn’t the neglect of this sports arena point to a growing indifference on the part of the Nigerian government or its citizenry towards sports and its development?

It’s time the Sports Ministry got its acts together, took some time off playing politics with sports, and concentrated on developing it. It is time they asked themselves some hard questions, namely; isn’t it time the government encouraged private sector participation in sports by giving conditional tax rebates and reliefs? Whatever happened to merchandising, we all know sports merchandising is a big money spinner? Will the National Sports Commission not have a better ‘home’ in the Stadium Complex where it can monitor the infrastructural rot as against the present arrangement of having offices in the National Secretariat, where it is taking up much needed office space? Isn’t it time to follow the recommendations of the President of the Organizing Committee of the 8th All Africa Games, Amos Adam, and privatize the National Stadium? In the interest of development, should we not learn to shun federal character and quota systems in the selection of sportsmen and let the best man win?

The fuss surrounding sports in Nigeria is understandable because it is one of those ‘get rich quick sectors’; however, the ability for this sector to unify Nigeria’s diverse population is immense. If we choose to look beyond sentiments and focus on the potentials for both economic and social growth that this sector can bring, we as a nation would finally start re-tracing our footsteps. And it’s nothing new; we all had in no distant past tasted the triumph and felt the euphoria. We basked in the glory days of rock star footballer, Samuel Okparaji; legendary Daniel Omokachi; iconic Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha; the 70’s race icon, Alfred Oladele Williams; Africa’s heptathlon champion, Pat Itanyi; amongst others. The sooner we find where we got it all wrong and start to make amends, the better it will be. Our inability to find our footing is perhaps why most Nigerian youths are turning their energy towards the more interesting and entertaining European football leagues.

Nigeria Intel

Actually, I couldn't resist posting this interesting comment on the story too (and this one's for you, Alex), from the man who spent years telling us the Abuja plan and facilities was second to none:

paul taylor

April 13, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Well a good article on a problem that was even apparent when I visited as a Canadian in support of Abuja hosting the 2014 commonwealth games in 2007. My impression was of a legacy that was not sustaining 4 years after a masterpiece of bring this complex to full reality in three years.

My faith that Abuja would pull off a commonwealth games staging is based on those 2003 all african games capital works phase. Rare do you see a couple of vertically integrated construction companies with long international events resumes working to create such a complex. Planning and execution were second to none. New Delhi India and even Manchester 2002 could dream of being so smooth. My visit found a sports park 4 years after completion with badly worn signage, rubberized floors in one of the Arenas that was in terrible condition and a shooting range that was deplorable. This was the presentation sadly the bid committee presented voters from Oceania , Europe, the Amercias , Africa and Asia for the 2014 games. Maintenance of course costs money but money can certainly come with good amounts of community use. I wonder of military and police training via the use of the Shooting Range? Local School swimming programs to use the aquatics centre. The turning over and further development to the private sector of the main stadium to have a concourse level which could also serve as a shopping mall. These things are done in other places and I look to the country of Brazil when I think of these things. I had no doubt that granted a multi sports festival Nigeria would indeed have the national stadium complex is great shape. The problem is fire brigade efforts and deferred maintenance. Is the decline do to government neglect , Facilities management or both ? I tend to think everyone has a bit of guilt to share. Very saddened to see the decline of the most able facilities ever presented in a bid campaign for any sports festival bid I have ever seen

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Actually, the telling thing that occurred to me thinking over this “revelation” by JJ (I still can't believe that after all his vitriol and abuse, the JJ we all know and loathe comes out as saying the Abuja facilities were in “terrible condition” and “deplorable”) is the timing. If memory serves me correct, his “goodwill junket” to Abuja was at the same time that the CGF inspection committee swung through for their on-ground evaluation. So this was what they presented to the CGF? And then they were surprised they scored poorly in the technical report? Was there ever a bid more naïve?

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