2020 NSF: Sports Minister Applauds Obaseki on Refurbished Ogbemudia Stadium

Godwin Obaseki

Adibe Emenyonu in Benin

The Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mr. Sunday Dare has commended Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on his administration’s commitment to deepening sports development by investing in the revamp of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium and other sporting facilities in the state.

The Minister who made the submission during an inspection of ongoing refurbishment of facilities at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, in Benin City, Edo State, expressed satisfaction with the progress on the project, which is in the final stage of completion, noting that the state was prepared for the hosting of 2020 sports Festival in Edo State.

Dare, who was impressed with the quality of work at the stadium, said, “There are no excuses for Edo 2020 National Sports Festival. This is transformational; it’s a makeover and very impressive job. I was here for campaigns in 2014 and 2015. The stadium is wearing a new look. This is totally different as the facilities here is at par with FIFA standards.

“Right from the start, we know we have an All Progressives Congress (APC) Governor who is not just a thinker but a doer. This stadium is an evidence of the good work of Mr Governor. We are happy that we are coming here in March 2020. It is five months to the start of the game and the facilities are almost ready.”

The Sports Minister commended the Obaseki-led administration for the local content embedded in the project as over 500 persons are engaged in the construction work, all of whom are Nigerians, adding “I have not seen a foreigner working here today. I spoke with Nigerian Engineers. This will help lift our people out of poverty. To maintain the stadium, people will be employed here. I recommend this effort to other states.”

Speaking on the release of the National Sports Commission’s South-South Zone building located at Sapele Road to the state government, Dare said the necessary process of engagement has started.

“Edo State has applied to take over the facility and we are waiting for an approval from the Federal Government. This is a 30-year old facility and can be complementary to the Ogbemudia Stadium”.

Responding, Governor Obaseki, who was excited with the progress of work at the site, said the state is ready to host the National Sports Festival, noting “I am impressed with the total rebuilding of the stadium to a 21st-century model edifice.  We have built the pitch; the tracks are to be replaced. The swimming pool, long tennis and indoor courts are all wearing new looks.”

“The stadium is inadequate but we are going back to the drawing board to immediately begin plans for another stadium somewhere, hoping that one day we should be able to host the Olympics in the city,” he said.

On the National Sports Commission building, Obaseki said the state is prepared to take over ownership of the building to boost sports infrastructure in the state, noting “This facility has enough space which has been encroached by land developers. It will be recovered and more sporting facilities will be built as the refurbished Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium can no longer be used as practice pitch.”

Also, the Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, said Edo State will redefine how sporting events are hosted in the country with the Edo 2020 National Sporting Festival.

He said the State government has also written to the Federal Government to release the sporting facilities at Afuze as it fits into the state’s vision to create more facilities to train athletes.