By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Solomom Dalong yesterday said that the national stadium in Abuja cannot be used for major sporting events due to lack of ancillary facilities such as a standard hotel and recreational park.
He also stated that the stadium which he said was strongly located cannot be effectively maintained by the government consequent upon shortfalls in budgetary allocations.
Dalong however said that the only way to move forward was to either concession the sporting facility to be managed by the private sector or put in place the necessary supporting facilities such as a five star hotel.
The minister spoke with State House correspondents after a private meeting with president Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.
“I agree that there is under utilisation of sports facilities in Abuja. That has taken us to the issue of concession. The facilities can’t be managed effectively by government looking at the budgetary allocation for even the maintenance.
“Government can not maintain those things. So what we intend to do is to proceed with the concession process which we met on ground.
“FEC in 2012 had approved concession of Abuja and Lagos stadiums. We have proceeded with it and even appointed consultants. We are at the stage of getting the approval of BPE. From there, we can now proceed to call for bids and engage the private sector so that we can run the concession arrangement with them so that they can come in.
“We have also received the drawing on the proposed transformation of the place which will include the creation of artificial lake in the Abuja stadium that will provide for 12 water sports; then the building of a five-star hotel here in Abuja. Lagos will have the same thing. The adjourning land will have a park.
“The moment you put these two, the economic status of the stadium will be uplifted and you will have foreign athletes coming in because there will be facilities. That’s the best way we can maximise stadium in Abuja in view of how it was located”, the minister said.