By Ben Efe
The National Stadium Surulere, Lagos is fast losing its ‘eco-beauty’ as the trees that once made the complex a greenery spectacle are being chopped down and sold for firewood.
During the week the almond trees near the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria and Nigeria Olympic Committee secretariats were hacked down by chainsaw wielding workmen who after cutting the tree piled them in bundles for onward delivery to firewood vendors. This is not the first time the trees at the stadium will suffer such environmental condition. It was gathered that the National Sports Commission Liaison officer, Mrs. Tayo Oreweme ordered the ‘assault’ on the trees on the suspicion that they were meeting places for witches and wizards.
However, she explained yesterday that there was no spiritual bend to the axing of the trees. Rather according to her, she was only obeying directives from her superiors.
“We are chopping down the trees because they are blocking the view of the CCTV cameras installed at the stadium. The engineers have told us to cut them so that the CCTV will get a clearer view of the area of surveillance. I did not do on my own volition, but just obeying directives.
“Other trees that did not obstruct the path of the CCTV were cut down because they are threatening to to pull down the walls of the fencing.
“If you go around the stadium you will see that other trees not standing in the way were not touched.
“I am not adverse to making the stadium beautiful. You will recall that when I first came I cut down some of the trees. This was because they were overgrown, but they are now fully regrown and giving the stadium a level of beauty,” said the NSC official.
But a closer look at the CCTV device revealed that it was not in working order. It was as good as dead, but according to Oreweme, the Cameras will be fully operational in no distant time and they will be commissioned by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Some of the trees were planted in 1973 when the Stadium was commissioned for use by former Head of State General Yakubu Gowon.