Sports Minister Insists National Stadium In Lagos Is Not A Market

A file photo of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare.

 

The minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare insists the national stadium in Lagos is not a market, so there is no going back on the decision to demolish illegal shops and structures to achieve the objective of returning the edifice to its original blueprint.

Addressing the media in Lagos, Mr. Dare reiterated the government’s commitment towards improving infrastructure development.

“For 18 years, the national stadium in Lagos has been used for purposes other than sports. We have started a new regime of trying to develop our sporting infrastructure, the new orientation around sports.

“The facility in Surulere, Lagos is an iconic monument to sports development. It is a sporting complex, any other purpose for which is used will not be accepted. It is not a market, it’s not a beer parlour.

Business owners occupying some parts of the stadium have appealed to the ministry to give them more time to vacate but the ministry insists their time is up.

“What we are trying to do is return that place to its original blueprint and prepare it for concession. The concession process is in the last stage, we are receiving people with their submissions. They must have access to that place.

“If you go there now, you will be shocked that stadium is actually so beautiful because we’ve cleaned it up by taking those things down and we are sure that before the end of this year, you will see changes in that place and we hope to build a 150 shopping mall that all these people can come and be in a single, unified and decent place.”

Benefits Of Adopt-A-Pitch Campaign

In December last year, the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development launched the Adopt Campaign Initiative to support athletes and achieve development in some vital areas of the sector, particularly infrastructure development.

The Adopt-a-Pitch and Adopt-a-Sports Centre has a target of reviving sporting infrastructure and facilities across the country.

With the models, individuals or private sector organisations commit to rehabilitate and maintain a stadium pitch, or sports centre such as basketball courts, tennis courts, and the likes, for an agreed period.

READ ALSO: We Expect The National Sports Festival To Happen This Year – Sports Minister

The minister did more explanation. “The adopt-a-pitch model or private participation is simply a process in which we get an organisation or individual interested in adopting a sports facility.

“We offer our expertise to present to them four or five professional sport developers particularly when it comes to pitches, you must have a FIFA license.”

Last month, the ministry did the official hand over for the commencement of rehabilitation work of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium to the Dangote Group.

The renovation work will be completed in 24 weeks.

“We are pleased with the contractors working at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja and I’m sure when the work is done in February next year, we will all see it, FIFA will come and certify it, if it does not meet FIFA standard, the contractor will rework it to meet the standard,” the minister assured.

 

2020 National Sports Festival Still Possible?

The 20th edition of the National Sports Festival tagged “Edo 2020” was scheduled to hold from March 22nd – April 1st, 2020 but due to the coronavirus outbreak, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the postponement of the games as a precautionary move against its spread.

There have been speculations about a rescheduled date for the event and the minister of youth and sports development provides some clarifications.

“It is our desire to have the National Sports Festival which I call Nigeria’s Olympics to take place this year. We have shown the commitments. We’ve had a team, we had the report where they suggested October for the event.”

Last month ministry announced the resumption of non-contact sports and that brought some sort of excitement to the sporting community.

Things almost got better last week when the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 suggested the gradual return of contact sports but later reversed the decision.

“Based on the Covid-19 infection rate and other indices, Covid-19 infrastructure, protocols, we’ve been working with the PTF, NCDC, and the health Ministry. The ministry will be properly guided, when the numbers are right, we will have the festival. We are going to have contact and non-contact sports. The world has started both but observing the protocols, if we do the same thing here, we can get on with our lives,” Dare stated.

According to the organisers of the Edo 2020 games, about 11,000 athletes and their officials had declared readiness to participate in this year’s edition.

“Conversations are ongoing, in a matter of weeks we should make progress. We’ve provided all the necessary documents and preparations. Remember two months ago, we submitted to the National assembly and PTF, the Covid-19 sports protocols that focused on contact and non-contact sports with a particular section dedicated to football,” the minister assured.

The National Sports Festival is a platform that showcases upcoming and established athletes in the country and has a huge following. The last time it was properly was Eko 2012 edition in Lagos.

Pinnick’s CAF Victory A Big Success For Nigeria – Dalung

Pinnick's CAF Victory A Big Success For Nigeria - DalungThe Federal Government has congratulated the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, on his success at the just concluded Confederation of African Football (CAF) Executive Committee elections held on Thursday in Addis Ababa.

Pinnick defeated the incumbent Benin Republic’s Moucharafou Anjorin by 32 votes to 17 to emerge the third Nigerian to serve on the executive seat of CAF.

Nigeria’s Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, in a statement expressed delight that a Nigerian has joined the inner caucus of CAF after many years.

A Big Achievement

“When I became Minister, I asked why there was no Nigerian representative in the Executive Committee of CAF. With a population of over 170 million people, there was no way the CAF Executive Committee will be constituted without Nigerians as stakeholders.

“I encouraged the Federation to try and ensure that they are represented hence our support for the President of the NFF. This is a big achievement for Nigeria and our re-entry into African football politics,” Dalung said.

The Federal Government also congratulated Mr Ahmad Ahmad, following his election as the CAF President, but maintained it support for regional interest.

“Nigeria’s position remains in favour of our national interest but the will of the people has prevailed and we congratulate them all,” the statement said.

Mr Dalung advised the newly elected board to be magnanimous in victory and run an all-inclusive government.

Ambode: We Are Set To Take Over National Stadium Lagos

national-stadiumLagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has indicated his government’s readiness to take over the management of the National Stadium in Surulere.

Mr Ambode made this known in Lagos on Wednesday during an inspection tour of the facility, in company of the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung.

The governor said his decision was necessitated by the dilapidated state of the 38,000 capacity stadium which used to be a cynosure of all eyes, stressing the need to give hope to the teeming sporting youth in Nigeria.

National-Stadium-Lagos

Mr Dalung also registered his displeasure over the condition of the facility, attributing it to poor management.

He called on the Lagos State government to ensure that persons of credibility and integrity were appointed for the management of the stadium when completed, so as to make it a pride of glory in the sporting world.

The minister further challenged the government to ensure that the renovation was completed in six months, just in time to host the country’s national teams.

The National Stadium, Lagos has been left to dilapidate since 2002 and is no longer a beehive of activities as it was in the past.

Disturbed by the condition of the facility, the Lagos State government is set to expedite actions that will ensure the stadium regains its lost glory in no distant time.

Former Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdulahi Is New APC Spokesman

Former Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdulahi Is New APC SpokesmanThe former Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdulahi, is set to replace Mr Lai Mohammed as the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) after north central leaders adopted him.

His election held on Thursday at the Zonal Congress of the party in Abuja.

Among the delegates to the congress were Governors Simon Lalong of Plateau and Sani Bello of Niger States.

The congress was chaired by the National Vice Chairman of APC from the zone, Zakari Idde.

Abdulahi was unanimously confirmed via a voice vote by the delegates, after the Nasarawa State House of Assembly Deputy Speaker, Godiya Akwashiki, nominated him and was seconded by Senate Spokesman, Aliyu Abdullahi.

Mr Abdullahi told journalists after his emergence that he would adopt a fresh strategy on his new job as he was aware that the post is different from his former position of sports minister, as they “demand different approaches”.

“I have a fair understanding of what I am expected to do even though you never know until you really get there.

“What I can assure is that I will do the best I can, not only in the improvement of our party but also in contributing to the progress of this country especially at this challenging period,” he said.

On the pressure that comes with the office of the National Publicity Secretary for a ruling party, Abdulahi said that he had the experience to manage this.

“However, what I know is that every human being is under pressure. Mr President, the ruling party chairman and everybody including the journalists are under pressure. There will always be pressure because the expectations of people are very high.

“So, irrespective of the economic challenges, we have to continue to weather the storm especially now that I am brought in to be part of the process. All I can reassure is that I will give the best I can to ensure that we continue to move forward,” he said.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, held the position until hi appointment as Minister by President Muhammadu buhari.

Dalung Says VOA Interview Was Edited Out of Context

solomon-dalungNigeria’s Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, has cleared the air on his interview with the Voice of America, Hausa Service where he was reported to have said the Super Eagles do not need to attend the 2018 World Cup since they can’t win the trophy.

Mr Dalung said that the interview which he granted four months ago was misinterpreted, insisting  he has total confidence in the team to pick the sole tick in their group for Russia 2018.

He said that the interview was edited midway into a more comprehensive conversation and the act has sent a misconception about his commitment to the ongoing World Cup campaign.

“The statement was taken out of context. It was part of a comprehensive interview I granted four months ago when I was reacting to the status of African nations in global competitions and also football administration globally. Where do we stand?

“The question also was that whether Nigeria or any African country is likely going to host the World Cup. My reaction was what was captured.

“Unfortunately, the interview did not avail those who listened the complete narrative so that they can benefit from the background with which the response was taken,” he explained.

He maintained that the Nigerian government and the Ministry of Sport remain committed to ensuring that Nigeria re-positions itself as a global player in football and lead other African countries to the top of the game.

He urged Nigerians to support the Super Eagles to ensure that they do not lose the momentum that is in their favour in the 2018 World Cup qualifying series.

He added that his selfless contributions so far in Super Eagles’s quest for qualification, particularly ahead of the away win in Zambia, contradicts the impression that he was not in support of the team.

Dalung Says Siasia Has Not Resigned, Gernot Rohr’s Appointment Unofficial

Solomon Dalung, Samson Siasia, Gernot RohrThe Minister of Sports, Mr Solomon Dalung, says he has not been officially informed of the appointment of a new foreign coach for the Super Eagles by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

The NFF had in early August, appointed a German, Gernot Rohr, to manage the Eagles, despite Mr Dalung’s preference for a local coach.

He claimed that Coach Samson Siasia, who led the Nigeria’s U-23 football team to win a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, had not resigned, contrary to media reports, although his contract with the NFF had lapsed.

Siasia had told reporters that he had on August 27 resigned as the coach of Nigeria’s U-23 football team because of what he describes as “a disrespectful system”.

Mr Dalung’s frowned at the treatment meted to Siasia by the NFF, alleging that they withdrew his official car in Abuja while he was battling to secure a medal for Nigeria in Rio.

While hinting that he had met with Siasia on Monday, he said Nigeria needed him ‎in football development.

Samson Siasia
Coach Samson Siasia

The Sports Minister further pointed out that even if the NFF would not re-engage him, the Federation should at least, give him some peace of mind to enable him make his contributions in a personal capacity.

He noted that it would be sad to have such coach leave Nigeria for another country out of frustration, just like many athletes did as witnessed during the Rio Olympics.

Abysmal Outing Of Team Nigeria

Dalung also cleared the air on the $390,000 donation to Siasia and his team by a Japanese surgeon, saying that after he met the donor in Rio, he was convinced there were no strings like match-fixing attached to the donation.

He attributed the abysmal outing of the Nigerian Olympic contingent to late release of funds and inability to develop home-grown talents.

The Minister emphasised the need for the National Sports Commission which he said was unfortunately scrapped by a government committee that recommended merger of ministries.‎

He was at the State House on Tuesday in Abuja to brief President Muhammadu Buhari on Nigeria’s outing at the ‎just concluded Olympics in Rio, Brazil.

Since Team Nigeria were able to win bronze medal in football, Mr Dalung urged the President to host the team.

Olympics: Funke Oshonaike is Team Nigeria’s Flag Bearer

Funke Oshonaike, Team Nigeria, OlympicsExperienced and elegant Table Tennis star, Olufunke Oshonaike, will lead out Team Nigeria at the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics, at the Maracana Stadium on Friday, August 5.

The graceful and stylish ping ponger, who is competing in her sixth Olympics, is also the assistant Team Captain to Mikel Obi who at the weekend was also named captain of the football team, thereby making him a double captain to the Games.

Funke Oshonaike, no doubt, would treasure to be the flag bearer as marching with her fellow athletes in an opening ceremony is considered by many athletes as the pinnacle of their Olympic journey.

Table Tennis is indeed honoured with yet another player, Segun Toriola whose incredible willpower and perseverance sees him as the Nigerian with seven appearances at the Olympics.

The opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics would also see an athlete take the Olympic Oath during the Opening Ceremony, “In the name of all the competitors”.

Mayor of Rio To Welcome Team Nigeria To Games Village

Rio Olympics, Russia, IOC, Team NigeriaThe Mayor of Rio De Janeiro, Eduardo da Costa Paes accompanied by other officials will welcome Team Nigeria to the Games Village of the Summer Rio Olympics on Wednesday, August 3, by 10a.m (Brazilian time).

Each team from the 206 countries is welcomed to the Village in a special ceremony led by the Village Chieftains as well as athletes and officials of the countries.

Team Welcome Ceremonies are a key occasion for athletes, team officials and their guests. It acknowledges their journey to the Games and marks the start of their residency in the Village.

The brief but impressive ceremony will celebrate the Nigerian heritage and culture. The Green, White, Green flag would be raised and the national anthem played.

President of Nigeria Olympic Committee, Habu Gumel who is also a member of International Olympic Committee (IOC), and other Nigerian officials will be present at the event.

Brazilian officials have promised to make sure that the largest athletes’ Village in history provides a comfortable, welcoming and inspiring place for all the competitors.

In the Village, Technogym has installed a state-of-the-art gym for Team Nigeria that will occupy four floors in block 11.

President Buhari Receives FIFA President, Infantino

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, Muhammadu BuhariPresident Muhammadu Buhari says his administration will pay keen interest to accountability and transparency in order to fast-track football development in the country.

The President said this at a meeting with FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, and the Secretary-General, Fatma Samoura, at the State House.

For about an hour, both men rubbed minds on how to develop the game of football in the country.

Mr Infantino also met with the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and members of the National Assembly and also highlighted the need for football development on the continent.

The Senate President assured the FIFA delegation of the support of the National Assembly. He, however, appealed to the Nigerian Football Federation to put its house in order.

 

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, Muhammadu Buhari
L-R: President of Nigeria Football Federation Mr Amaju Pinnick, FIFA President Mr Gianni Infantino, Secretary General of FIFA Ms. Fatima Samoura and Minister of Sports and Youth development Solomon Dalung at the State House

Gianni Infantino was led to the Presidential Villa by the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Mr Amaju Pinnick as part of Infantino’s two-day official visit to Nigeria.

He was in company of FIFA Secretary-General, Fatma Samoura, the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung and executive board members of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

In a press conference afterwards, the FIFA President said that Nigeria should be a model for the rest of the world in football development.

He said that the football federation needs to work with relevant authorities in order to achieve its goals.

The FIFA President said that his visit to Nigeria has given him a chance to meet with 18 presidents of African football associations who converged on Abuja to meet with him on how to develop football in Africa.

The 40-year-old assured Nigerians of his support for the growth and development of the round leather game in Nigeria.

The NFF Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi, has described the visit of the FIFA President, which is also his first in Africa as an epoch event.

He says it also shows the hard work the NFF has put in place in developing football especially at grassroots level.

Football Administrators Should Learn To Accept Defeat – Saraki

Football administratorsPresident of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki on Monday admonished football administrators to learn to accept defeat in the interest of the immediate environment and larger society, and not engage in ‘pull-the-house-down’ syndrome when things do not go their way.

Nigeria’s number three man spoke at the Senate President’s Conference Room at the National Assembly when he received visiting FIFA President, Gianni Infantino and Secretary General, Ms Fatma Samoura, alongside NFF President Amaju Pinnick, FA presidents from other African countries and members of the NFF Executive Committee and Management.

“The kind of global recognition we have today, as a result of this historic visit, challenges us to learn to allow peace and stability in Nigeria football. If people lose election, they should learn to accept defeat.

“People used to blame politicians for do-or-die attitude; politicians have moved; it is now football administrators who have this attitude! When you lose an election, you should be prepared to wait for the next poll.

“I call on those who are fomenting trouble or trying to divide the house to stop their act. The National Assembly is united in moving to restore peace in Nigeria football, and creating an enabling environment for the game.”

Saraki, who owns a football club (ABS FC, in the Nigeria National League), acknowledged the passion and love of Nigerians for football as incredible. “Football is a big unifying factor in our country. As governor of a state, I set up a football academy because there are so many talents out there waiting to be nurtured.”

Earlier, the FIFA boss called Nigeria ‘a great country in a great continent,’ adding: “I was impressed coming from the airport on Sunday and seeing so many kids playing football on both sides of the road. That shows Nigerians not only love football, they live football.

“There is great passion and great tradition, but there is need for unity and stability. I was elected on pledges of reforms, transparency and to develop the game. I am happy that Ms Samoura accepted to be Secretary General and the Executive Council endorsed her, because her choice said something for inclusion, gender equality, diversity and the future that we promise.”

NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, reiterated that the visit, the first time that both the FIFA President and Secretary General would travel together on a non–football competition assignment, confirmed that Nigerian football commands respect globally.

He acknowledged the role of the National Assembly in re-defining Nigeria football development, saying that peace is key to true growth.

He also recalled that months ago, the first football match was played in Maiduguri after a long time, with a huge crowd at the stadium boldly proclaiming the power of football to enable ceasefire even in war situations.

In attendance were Senators Obinna Ogba, Philip Aduda, Shuaib Abdullahi, Barau Jibrin, Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai, Monsurat Sunmonu, David Umaru, Mao Ohuabunwa, Tijjani Kaura, Albert Bassey and Mohammed Hassan, and Honourables Goni Bukar Lawan and Danburam Abubakar.

Also on the visit were the FA presidents of Ghana, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Tanzania, Djibouti, Somalia, The Gambia, Zambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia and South Sudan.

NFF General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi; NFF vice presidents, Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko; NFF Board members: Ibrahim Gusau, Yusuf Ahmed Fresh, Babagana Kalli, Sunday Dele-Ajayi, Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, Sharif Inuwa and Chris Green.

Other are former NFF vice president, Amanze Uchegbulam, former NFF Board member Ahmadu Kawu and Deputy General Secretary Emmanuel Ikpeme.

Earlier in the day, the FIFA President and Secretary General inspected the new NFF headquarters (Sunday Dankaro House) located at the Package B of the National Stadium.

Infantino‎ To Support Nigeria On Football Development

FIFA President, Gianni InfantinoFIFA President, Gianni Infantino, has given the assurance that he will work with Nigeria to achieve football development.

In an exclusive interview with Channels Television, Infantino said that Nigeria already has a framework that can be worked upon for long term success.

The FIFA President affirmed that he will use his visit to establish a productive working relationship with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) that will be geared towards sustainable development.

Infantino also believes it is about time African football leaders get fully involved in international football politics.

Mr Gianni Infantino and the Secretary General, Ms Fatma Samba Samoura, arrived in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja on Sunday on a two–day working visit.

The FIFA officials were received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport by NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, members of the NFF Board and some football club owners in the country.

The objective of the visit is to renew FIFA’s commitment towards developing football in Africa and promote corporate support for the sport in Nigeria.

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino Arrives Nigeria

FIFA President, Gianni InfantinoPresident of football’s world governing body, FIFA, Mr Gianni Infantino and the Secretary General, Ms Fatma Samba Samoura, have arrived in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja on a two–day working visit.

The FIFA officials were received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport by NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, members of the NFF Board and some football club owners in the country.

The objective of the visit is to renew FIFA’s commitment towards developing football in Africa and promote corporate support for the sport in Nigeria.

About 20 football federation presidents from Africa are in Nigeria for this event and will be meeting with the FIFA President and Secretary General later on Sunday.

On Monday, Mr. Infantino and Ms Samoura, led by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Barr. Solomon Dalung and NFF President Pinnick will pay a courtesy call on President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa.

He will leave Nigeria on Monday after meeting with personalities of corporate Nigeria and potential sponsors of football.