At last, life is about to return to the National Stadium complex in Lagos after a decade and half of abandoning the country’s prized sports edifice.
At the weekend, Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, made the state’s intent known when he paid a condolence visit to the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, at his residence in Abuja.
“I will like to bring the National Stadium back to life. The last time a game was played at the National Stadium was in 2005. There is also the employment aspect of football and hosting of matches at the stadium. That includes the jerseys, branding, mama put food vendors, the sign writers, the supporters, merchandising, and so on. We want to bring back the football culture of Lagos State to the National Stadium after its renovation,” Ambode revealed of his intent.
Brimming with the new status of Lagos as one of the marathon destinations in the world, Ambode wants the city to regain its pride of place hosting Super Eagles matches again.
In his remark, Dalung promised he will go through the proposal and act on it.
“It is only fair that we hand over the stadium to Lagos State for renovation since we’ve given to Enugu, Bauchi and Kaduna states stadia in their domain.
“We were trying to drive a concession but Lagos State’s interest in the National Stadium is what we call an overriding interest which is based on equity. If Gov Ambode is interested in the National Stadium then the concession process is already abated” Dalung said gleefully.
The minister noted that Nigerian football and its followership started going down when the National Stadium in Surulere ceased to host local and international matches.
“No matter how strong your home team is, if you don’t have a common ground where your teams play their big games, the environment counts a lot. Football has so many interests and since we lost the National Stadium Lagos, football started going down,” Dalung further observed.
Ambode has since invited the minister for a joint working visit of the National Stadium with the Lagos State government to ascertain the level of decadence and to hold talks on the evaluation and the next line of action to take.
The minister praised Lagos State for its successful hosting of the 2nd Lagos City Marathon.
He called on the state government to add more entertainment and culture to the event in subsequent editions to get more youths involved in the road race and to ensure that Nigerians benefit more from the mouth-watering prize money on offer.