TOTAL COLLAPSE AND NEGLECT OF OUR SPORTING EDIFICE.

Welcome to this edition of SPORTS VOX a weekly online sports column, I am your host BASSEY OKON OSUNG.

There are many stadia in Nigeria that are not up to world standard, or one can simply say that facilities in most of Nigeria’s stadia are obsolete and can not be compared to the ones in other climes. The impact and involvement of government in Nigeria’s sporting history and development is massive. subventions made by government to various sporting associations and federations to run its programes has been a continuous exercise over the years.

Whilst, government sees sports as a tool for unification amongst various ethic groups and religious backgrounds, it has also gone ahead to develop sporting infrastructures by investing heavily in building stadia and other facilities to enhance its development. Therefore, we can aptly say that government effort towards this direction has accounted for its 99% ownership of stadia across the country.

However, the intention and objectives of government in developing these sporting edifice has been definite but the structure and mechanism set up to maintaining same has been crude and docile.

Indeed, some of our stadia were built and owned by state governments. While the Abuja and Lagos national stadia were built and constructed by the federal government for specific purposes;

The Lagos National Stadium was built for the purpose of hosting the ALL AFRICA GAMES in 1973, and the Abuja National Stadium that was constructed at an estimated cost of N58 Billion  in 2003, to host the ALL AFRICAN GAMES in the same year.

Similarly, the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium in Bauchi, U.J Esuene Stadium, Calabar, Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin city, Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt, Liberty Stadium, Ibadan and so on are state government owned stadium and are very popular and famous in Nigeria.

These stadia have hosted so many international matches and a lot of monies were usually appropriated to re-grass and maintain a particular stadium that is designated to host an international match and afterwards, continuous maintenance of the playing turf and the stadium facilities are relegated to the background. Proper maintenance structure and mechanism are not instituted to ensure the regular maintenance of our stadia.

The frequent face lifting of stadium that had been under deplorable conditions is a channel or conduit pipe for sports ministry officials to enable  public funds that might have been directed to other public use instead of routine and frequent face lifting stadia.

From the forgoing, many of our stadia has suffered unprecedented neglect and the state of these stadia across the country has been under deplorable conditions. The essence of these sporting edifice was for sporting purpose, but most of our stadia like the Lagos National Statdium which has been turned into social events (weddings, religious gathering, companies exhibitions) centres, monies derivable from all these events are either not accountable for or misappropriated.

It is a big shame and the impending disaster that may befall this ugly trend is certainly going to be catastrophic in the long run. The big question is, how can we desist from this unholy act of defacing our sporting edifice with the alterior motive of  having government appropriate funds for for its regular face lifting in order to enhance personal aggrandizement.

In this 21st century, many sporting centres (stadia) are maintained regularly. A good quality football pitch enhances and influences the quality of football that is being played in a particular turf. Let’s imbibe a maintenance attitude to ensuring that our football playing surface is well grassed, press gallery well equipped and players’ dressing room well kept.

In all of these, let me quickly submit here that in order to ameliorate the continuous decadence of our sporting edifice, the probable alternative is the outright sales of these stadia to private investors or government partnering with private entity who have vested and sound interest and background in sports management to maintaining our sporting edifice.