When you drive past the National Stadium in Lagos, you don’t know what to make of it.
Has it been completely abandoned? Is it now home for destitutes? Or is it a meeting point for promising athletes making use of what is left to achieve their dreams?
The stadium has not functioned effectively for over 15 years due to poor maintenance of the facilities.
In April this year, Sunday Dare, who served as Minister of Sports under Muhammadu Buhari, ordered the temporary closure of the stadium.
This came after the collapse of one of the giant floodlights at the facility.
The floodlights pillar caved in from the middle, following a windstorm.
More worryingly perhaps, Dare also revealed that a large percentage of the stands were in a precarious state and could crumble as well.
The current Sports Development Minister, John Owan-Enoh, has also indicated that the Federal Government might pull it down to rebuild and bring it to a functional state.
Owan-Enoh, who had earlier said he would go ahead with the planned concession of the facility, noted that the government would only take the path that would breathe life into the nearly moribund edifice.
Would it be a wise decision amid the current economic crunch?
“Oh sure. It’s an old structure, with archaic architecture, best to build a modern stadium that will serve generations,” Latifat Adebayo-Ohio, a reporter at Making of Champions, tells DAILY POST.
“Also the last cost of remodelling the structure was unrealistic.
“No (other) options as far as I’m concerned. Build a modern stadium.”
What about the proximity of Lagos National Stadium to the Teslim Balogun Stadium, which has in fact hosted recent matches?
“National Stadium Lagos is historical,” Adebayo-Ohio insists.
“(The Lagos) State government will maintain Teslim Balogun Stadium, as it is a state-owned stadium.”
Wale Agbede, the Head of Sports at Plus TV, had earlier disagreed with rebuilding the Lagos National Stadium.
He told DAILY POST: “It is clear that from every action that has been taken from successive governments and everyone that has been in charge of sports in Nigeria, that they will not pay the kind of attention needed to that stadium.
“Neither will they put in the investment that is required for the stadium to be brought back to life.
“And quite frankly, if you look at the amount of work that the Lagos State government has put into the stadium that is just opposite- the Teslim Balogun Stadium, I don’t think the National Stadium is anymore necessary.
“I understand the emotional attachment. A lot of people grew up watching the Green Eagles.
“But I think that place with its location in the heart of Lagos, that place is a prized asset and it is wasting away.
“If there’s a private investor that has a solid plan that could bring profit to the government and will help the immediate community in Surulere, I am absolutely in favour of it.
“I think the stadium should be pulled down if possible. Look at what Arsenal did with Highbury. A large section of it was converted into a very big shopping plaza with offices and businesses and they are still making money even though they moved to the Emirates.
“I think that asset should be converted. Because if you give to a private institution, what do they stand to benefit? Any team that wants to play there, maybe the Super Eagles, could as well use the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
“If the Lagos State government continues to maintain the Teslim Balogun Stadium, there is no need for duplicity.
“If the Super Eagles have to absolutely adopt a national stadium, it should be the one in Abuja. Revamp it. If it has to be Lagos, then there’s a stadium around the corner. Use that one.”