By Olawale Ajimotokan
President Muhammadu Buhari has given the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development approval to open and make available four federal government owned stadiums in addition to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camps spread across the country as isolation centres for Coronavirus cases.
The stadiums are the National Stadium, Lagos; Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Ibadan; MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja and Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, confirmed this directive on Friday via his Twitter handle.
He said that the Ministry was already in touch with relevant authorities and stakeholders to make these facilities available in line with Buhari’s approval and as part of the ministry’s contribution to halting the spread of COVID-19.
He described the stadiums as huge complexes boasting of several outdoor and indoor areas and which can also be put into use as testing centres.
He stated that because of space they will allow for required distancing, adding it is up to medical personnel and authorities to determine the appropriate areas of usage if and when necessary.
“The world over, stadiums are being used by nations as they race against the ravages of COVID -19. The Santiago Bernabéu (Real Madrid Stadium) will be turned into a storage and distribution centre for medical materials donated to the health authorities in Spain. London’s ExCeL Exhibition and Conference Centre is being repurposed to care for patients infected with COVID-19. In Brazil, top football clubs have turned over their stadiums to the country’s health authorities to use as field hospitals.
The Hard Rock Stadium in Florida, United States was converted into a community testing centre amongst others. Back home, Lagos State Government has set up the Onikan Stadium (Mobolaji Johnson Stadium) to support efforts at halting the pandemic.
“While our prayers are that Nigeria never gets to the level where these facilities will be put to this use, we must however all be prepared to support the system and ensure that the nation is not caught unawares,” Dare stated.
The minister assured Nigerians that together they will fight and win the battle against Coronavirus contagion.
He also called on the youth to be at the vanguard of dissemination of timely and accurate information via social media to Nigerians in their communities.