Tuesday 27 November 2012

National Stadium In Ruins As Festival Begins

As the opening ceremony of the 18th National Sports Festival begins on Tuesday (today) in Lagos, it is shocking to note that the main bowl of the National Stadium, Surulere, venue of field events, has not been given a facelift by the organisers and officials of the festival tagged Eko 2012.
The Local Organising Committee of the festival has been involved in last-ditch efforts to put facilities in most venues in place but the National Stadium –  which has been abandoned for several years – seem not to catch the eye of the organisers.

While workers were seen working vigorously to ensure that every facility was in top shape at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, venue of the opening and closing ceremonies of the event, on Sunday night, the reverse was the case inside the opposite National Stadium.
Close observers felt the long-abandoned stadium, which hosted the first two editions of the festival, would breathe a new lease of life because of the festival but a close look at the facilities there indicate that nothing has been done.
Rather, the stadium is bubbling with commercial life with potential sellers during the festival flocking the arena and setting up their stands here and there. Kazza, a fast food outfit, and several others have been renovated awaiting potential customers. 
But on entering the main bowl, the tartan tracks inside the facility are in tattered shape while most of the seats have turned heaps of dirt after a long neglect.  Apart from managing to get the grass of the football pitch cut, nothing seems to have been done by the organisers of the festival.
Also, unlike other facilities, the weather-beaten edifice was not painted or given a facelift. Apart from the AstroTurf pitch, other venues like the indoor sports hall and the table tennis hall were equally not looking ready for the festival.
Though the table tennis hall had new roofing, which was reportedly put in place by Lagos State, the facility has been noted for its poor lighting over the years.
During an earlier inspection of the facility, one of the inspectors had complained of the lighting but a top official of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation told him to write ‘Work in progress’ in his report.
But no work seemed to have been done on the facility apart from the roofing as the festival begins today.
However, it was learnt that the poor state of the stadium for the games may not be unconnected with division over who handles the renovation of the edifice.
“The National Stadium is under the care of the National Sports Commission, meaning they should have taken care of the renovation of the facility for the festival. If the Lagos State Government was given the directive to refurbish the facilities, I believe they would have done it,” an official of the games, who pleaded anonymity, said.
In stark contrast, the Main Organising Committee on Monday confirmed that all facilities were in the right frame to host a befitting sports showpiece.
The MOC secretary-general, Abba Yola, said, “From the MOC, I want to say we are satisfied that Lagos is ready to host the 18th National Sports Festival with all the equipment in place. This is the first time in recent years that a state will match its words with action by ensuring that all what they promised were ready even before the kick off of the game.”

Culled From Punch 

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