Dangote, Adebutu Kessington to Renovate National Stadia in Abuja, Lagos

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THE ADOPTION CAMPAIGN

Femi Solaja

The Adoption Campaign by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports may have started yielding dividend following the confirmation by the Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, that business moguls, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Adebutu Kessington (also known as Baba Ijebu), have pledged to renovate the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja and the National Stadium in Lagos respectively.

The duo, according to the Sports Minister, have accepted the challenge as part of their respective companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
The Adopt Campaign for sports in Nigeria held Monday at the Civic Centre in Lagos, at the instance of the FMY&SD.

Dangote is a well-known figure in sports circle after his numerous philanthropic gestures especially to the Super Eagles but Chief Kessington who as been sponsoring football at the grassroots level is on the national limelight for the first time.

While Dangote will take charge of the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja, Kessington who is into sports betting business is expected to renovate the dilapidated National Stadium in Lagos, according to the hints given by the Sports Minister during the Adoption Campaign event on Monday night.

The playing turf of the mainbowl of the Abuja stadium which was completed in 2003 in readiness for Nigeria to host the African Games that year needs a complete overhaul in addition to minor renovation of other facilities in the Package ‘B’ of the complex largely under utilized since inception.

The same cannot be said of the stadium in Lagos that was built in 1972 for the country to host the 2nd edition of the African Games.
The stadium tagged ‘Sports City’ is now a shadow of itself even after a complete renovation in 1999 for the Under-20 FIFA World Cup finals hosted by Nigeria.

The main bowl is completely out of fashion. The last time it staged an official match was in 2001 when the Super Eagles defeated Zambia in AFCON qualifying match.

There have been several attempts to renovate the multi-purpose edifice that currently serves as home to urchins and reptiles while the once hallowed main bowl serves as a venue for parties and religious activities.

Formerly, a Mecca of some sort to sports men and women across Africa, the stadium comprises an Olympic-sized swimming arena and a mult-ipurpose indoor hall used mainly for basketball, volleyball, table tennis, wrestling and boxing matches.

It hosted several international competitions including the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations final, the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations final, as well as the FIFA World Cup qualifying matches of the senior national teams in the past.

The facility has inexplicably been left to dilapidate since 2002 and last hosted a national team game in 2004.

The Adoption Campaign has three components: To adopt a home-based athlete is at a cost of $10,000; and to adopt a foreign-based athlete is $20,000.
According to the minister, all proceeds from the campaign will go to the athletes, pay their coaches, their therapists and other necessary things to prepare them for the Olympic Games.