IBADAN, Nigeria – Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare on Sunday expressed disappointment over the state of facilities at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Ibadan.
Dare who was on a working visit to the stadium formerly known as Liberty Stadium located at Oke-Ado area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, said he was not happy with the current state of facilities as he pledged that the ministry will soon refurbish the dilapidated infrastructure at the stadium.
The Minister who said that the stadium has over the years suffered years of neglect by previous administrations, however, insisted that he was really impressed that such edifice is still standing.
He said, “We have such a structure, built over 64 years ago, it is still standing but it has suffered years of neglect and lack of maintenance. We need to bring Obafemi Awolowo Stadium back to work, we need to inject some funds into this place, we are going to work on our new model, the Public-Private Partnership (PPP).”
Dare, who had visited some other stadia across the country, said he places premium on some of them that are national monuments. Among those listed on the premium list are Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna; National Stadium, Lagos; Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja and Obafemi Awolowo Stadium in Ibadan.
The minister, who said that efforts of management and maintenance of the facilities in the past few years were not sufficient enough, promised that the facilities would engage his attention in terms of upgrade, maintenance and management.
“I am really impressed that we have such a structure built over 64 years ago. It is still standing, but it has suffered years of neglect and lack of maintenance.
“We have seen here that efforts have been made in the past few years, but we have seen that efforts of upgrading, maintenance and management have not been sufficient enough. “I have seen the indoor sports hall, main bowl, swimming pool and training pitches. ”
“I have seen that we need to inject some funds and bring this place back to work. We are going to work on our new public-private partnership model.”
Dare said that there were plans to bring activities back to the stadia, adding that the ministry’s first assignment was to ensure the right facilities were in place.
He listed adopt-a-pitch, adopt-a-sports centre and adopt-an-athlete as some of the ongoing campaign of the ministry aimed at bringing the private sector to fix some of the facilities.
“When we complete the detailed programme, we intend to invite the private sector to adopt the pitches and fix them. I am sure on an incremental basis, you will see the efforts of the ministry and the private sector. We can bring back the glory. You know sports is a big business globally. We are going to look at the new business model we have built around sports. “We want to bring back Kaduna, Abuja, Lagos and Ibadan. Once we bring back these facilities, we can have such championships coming back to Ibadan.”
The minister, who affirmed that there was paucity of funds, said there would be novel ideas and initiatives aimed at bringing funds back to sports from the public and private sectors. Speaking on the welfare of sports men and women, he said that the ministry would initiate
”Athletes Sustenance Fund’ and ‘Sports Trust Fund’ as been practised globally in sports. ”
“The components of this are being worked out right now. We know that the welfare of sportsmen and women is very important and insurance is very critical. We intend to keep them on a kind of stipend that would encourage them to train more and not only wait till the time of championships to get going on their career.
“I know there are challenges, but I believe some of them are surmountable with great ideas and efforts. ” In the face of the challenges, I don’t give up until I find ways of surmounting such challenges.”