The newly constructed Onikan stadium is to be known as Mobolaji Olufunso Johnson Arena, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said yesterday during a ‘Day of Honour’ event organised to celebrate the exit of the first Military Governor of Lagos State, Brigadier-General Mobolaji Johnson.
The compact waterfront arena is the first home ground of the Nigeria national team in the 1950s. This is undoubtedly, the oldest football stadium in Nigeria having been built in 1936.
It has gone through many transformations and change of names. Originally simply called Association Ground, it changed to King George V Stadium (KGV) on April 12, 1952 to commemorate the coronation of the English monarch.
It later changed name to Lagos City Stadium in 1963. When the old structure was pulled down and rebuilt, it became Onikan Stadium at its reopening on October 2, 1982 by the first Civilian Governor of the State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande.
That structure was pulled down in 2017 and being rebuilt as at the first quarter of 2019.
The all covered siting arena is due to commissioning soon and was one of the stadiums listed to staged the aborted FIFA Women U-20 World Cup finals which Nigeria had bided to host next year.
At the colorful event yesterday, Governor Sanwo-Olu described late Brig. Gen. Johnson, as a man who saw the future and worked to achieve the Lagos of our dreams.
The Governor and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, led members of the State’s Executive Council and high-profile dignitaries to the event held to honour the life and times of the deceased.
The late Johnson passed away in his Ilupeju country home on October 30, at the age of 83.
Sanwo-Olu said the late Johnson’s selflessness in service and excellent achievements had been a source of inspiration to successive administrations in Lagos.
Describing the former administrator as quintessential manager of resources and people, Sanwo-Olu said the late Johnson’s personality symbolised integrity, humility, fairness and justice.
He said: “In whatever role we knew him, the first and longest serving military administrator of Lagos State stood out as a special person for his leadership and charismatic personality. If anyone was qualified to be addressed as ‘an officer and a gentleman’, it was Brigadier General Johnson. Despite his imposing frame, he was as gentle as a dove.