By Divine Nwaoguji- Nweke
In fulfilment of the promise made a year ago that the nation’s sporting facilities would be revived, the Youth and Sports Development Minister, Mr. Sunday Dare on Wednesday flagged off and handed over the pitch of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium to the Dangote Group, for the commencement of rehabilitation by Messrs, Aron Nigeria Ltd. The rehabilitation will be done with 24 weeks.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, Mr Dare asserted that the promise made on assumption of office a year ago that the pitch and indeed other facilities will be revived, in line with the Ministry’s policy of Adopt Campaign. ‘’ I promised that this pitch and indeed other facilities will be revived and put to best use by athletes… in line with that mandate, we sought the support of many philantropists and sold them our vision of bringing back the glory days when our national stadia were filled to capacity on football game days which were the melting pot of various cultures and people of all ages.
The Minister thanked the President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote for responding to the call to restore the edifice. After months of discussions, planning and processing, that promise has come to fulfillment today with the kick –off of the project… the football pitch will be getting the long overdue face- lift it deserves.’’
Mr Dare commended Alhaji Dangote and his group for believing in the vision of the Ministry by agreeing to partner with it to restore the fading glory of the edifice. The Minister further asserted: ‘This landmark event reinforces my faith in the public-private sector partnership in line with Government’s efforts at delivering on our mandate. Government alone cannot fund sports and maintain facilities. we need more private corporations to take a cue from what Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Chief Adebutu Kessington have done in supporting our drive to renovate and maintain our facilities for use by our athletes and to play host to international events.
While urging Messrs. Aron Nig. Ltd, the Contractor to move with the speed of light, Mr. Dare said government had imbibed a proper maintenance culture to guarantee that the huge sum spent on these projects are not wasted.
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Mr Gabriel Aduda averred that the Government does not have the resources to maintain sporting facilities, hence the strategy to partner with the private sector through the Ministry’s adopt campaign. To this end, the Permanent Secretary stated that the campaign is yielding fruits.
Speaking during the event, the representative of Dangote Group, Engr. Ahmed Mansur stated that the Company was committing One Million US Dollars to the project, to ensure that the main bowl pitch of Moshood Abiola Stadium is restored to world class.
The ceremony was witnessed by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, Senator Obinna Ogba; President of the Nigeria Olympics C ommittee, Engr. Habu Gumel, Mallam Alhassan Yakmut, Special Assistant to Mr President On Sports, Daniel Amokachie; Nwankwo Kanu, Garba Lawal, Tijani Babangida, Chika Chukwumerije and Gabriel Okon; and an impressive array of our ex-internationals in attendance to lend support to the Minister of Youth and Sports Develpt.; Mr Sunday Dare.