… Top businessmen and politicians fingered
A plot by some business magnates and political actors to lobby the National Assembly to abort the plan of Lagos State Government to take over the National Stadium, Surulere has been uncovered.
A source close to the House of Representatives revealed the subtle move by some lawmakers to stop the Federal Government from handing over the stadium to the State Government to our correspondent yesterday.
The source condemned the subtle move by some powerful people working against the state’s plan to take over the sports facility, who he said, were close to the National Assembly and Presidency.
He disclosed that the group had already mapped out a comprehensive plan to compel the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung to suspend the process of handing over the sports facility to the Government of Lagos State.
He revealed that some powerful interests, who had been seeking to take over the stadium on concession, were already working against the interest of Lagos State Government at different levels.
He noted that the interest groups were not dissatisfied with Dalung for leading the State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode to inspect the facility, which the Sports Minister said, had become a national embarrassment.
He added that the interests had already lobbied some lawmakers in the House of Representatives “to stop the process of handing over the stadium. A motion to stop the process will be moved today. The motion has been prepared, and a lawmaker has been detailed to move it accordingly.”
“The same people worked against the Lagos State Government when it initiated the plan to take over the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Had it been TBS was handed over to Lagos, the square would have been given total transformation”.
He lamented that those working against Lagos State from taking over the National Stadium did not have a clear plan to revamp and redevelop the Stadium for optimal usage.
He noted that the powerful interests “are only targeting the parcels of land within and around the National Stadium complex. They do not have any plan to really redevelop the facility,” which he said, had been completely abandoned and become dilapidated.
After moving the motion, the source disclosed that the Sports Minister would subsequently be invited for questioning, which he said, had been pre-arranged “to stop the state government from taking over the facility”.
“But the plan will not be allowed at all. It will be unjust and unfair to stop the process and deny Lagos State from taking over the facility whch is within its territory. The Federal Government has already handed over Kaduna Stadium to the Kaduna State Government.
“Aside, the Federal Government also handed over Enugu Stadium to the Enugu State Government and Calabar Stadium to the Cross Rivers State Government. Why should the case of Lagos State be different? Nigeria does not belong to one section alone. We will fight this out.”
Dalung had, last week while inspecting the national stadium, lamented the dilapidated condition of the stadium, describing as a national disaster and calling for comprehensive action to reposition the stadium and return it to its pride of place.
He inspected the sports facility alongside the State Governo,r the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Mr. Amaju Pinnick and other top government functionaries.
After the inspection, the sports minister decried the sorry condition of the national stadium which he described as a national embarrassment, noting that the sports facility require the commitment of a passionate stakeholder like the Lagos State Government to reposition it and return it to its pride of place.
He, therefore, expressed confidence in the ability of the state government to transform it, thus thanking Ambode for his interest and commitment to the plan “to reposition the stadium. We have gone round and we have seen the edifice in a sorry state.
“Whatever we can do to arrest the situation, we must do it. In my village, there is an adage, which says once there is fire disaster, there is no choice of liquid and any liquid that can contribute to extinguish the fire, must be mobilized including liquor. But today, we have a disaster and we must do everything possible to extinguish it.
“I want to thank Ambode for finding the time to come. I have received what I can call football gossip from the football federation that if the National Stadium, Surulere is handed over to Lagos and renovated in six months, the next match of Nigeria against Zambia would be played here.”