Nigerians decry the poor state of country’s stadia, urge governments’ Intervention

Section of a dilapidated toilet at Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Enugu PHOTO: LAWRENCE NJOKU

The Dilapidated State Of Dan Anyiam Stadium
Charles Ogugbuaja, Owerri

It is quite obvious, especially to those familiar with the Dan Anyiam Stadium located on Wetheral Road, Owerri, Imo State capital that its infrastructure and facilities are in a state of despair.

A supporter of the Heartland Football Club, John Okoye who spoke to The Guardian on the dilapidated facilities at the stadium said it is now a shadow of its former self.

“It should be closed down for at least one year while the Imo State government should inject not less than N1bn to upgrade, renovate and install all necessary facilities to restore its lost glory.

The truth is, this is not the Dan Anyiam Stadium we used to know in those days. The stadium is usually a venue for local matches played by the Spartans Football Club, now Heartland Football Club.

“There were exquisite restaurants and relaxation joints inside the expansive stadium that usually operate in the evenings and match days till about 9pm daily.

Before now, the stadium was at the Tetlow Road, near the ever-busy Ekeukwu Market before it was relocated to Wetheral Road,” Okoye said.

Checks reveal that the buildings and other facilities at the stadium have severely deteriorated while the environment has become very filthy, without any clear evidence of maintenance. While the chairs in the sitting area are broken, the roads are impassable while roofs of the podium have been blown off by the windstorm.

The synthetic field is now nothing to write home about as it has worn off completely. Whenever it rains, the football pitch is flooded for several hours.

It was gathered that on assumption of office, Governor Rochas Okorocha saw that the stadium was deteriorating and instituted an emergency measure to fix it. That was how chairs that were provided by the Achike Udenwa’s administration were removed and replaced with what critics described as inferior seats that lasted for only three months.

Presently, the security of the facility is not guaranteed because the state government demolished part of the perimeter fence around the International Handball court with the intension of constructing a bypass road from Mbaise Road through the stadium to Ikenegbu Layout extension. The project has however, been abandoned for over a year.

The State Commissioner for Youth, Sports and Public Safety, Rodney Ajaelu disclosed that the Okorocha was passionate about developing sports in the state, adding that its partnership with the private sector was supposed to have achieved that objective.

But up till now, the more you look, the less you see as the stadium continues its downward trend in the decay of its infrastructure and facilities.

Poor Facilities The Hallmark Of Kano Stadia
From Abba Anwar, Kano

Worried by the closeness of Sani Abacha Stadium, Kofar Mata and Kano Pillars Stadium, all in Sabon Gari, Kano State, sports fans have expressed dissatisfaction over the closeness of the stadia to markets, mosques, churches and residential areas.

An ardent football enthusiast, Engineer Nura Garba Jibrin said of the situation: “Our stadia should be relocated to places that are not too close to worship centres like mosques, churches and residential areas. For example, the Sani Abacha Stadium is too close to the famous textile Kantin Kwari Market and also closer to Sheikh Amadu Tijjani Mosque.”

Investigations reveal that the water system of both stadia is not good enough for their water needs. The Abacha Stadium for example, has a standard pitch but the grass is artificial. The stadium has 18,000 sitting capacity but it is not roofed to shield spectators from rain.

“We need to have a modern stadium. Whenever it rains, we find it very difficult to watch soccer comfortably. I am requesting for a change in timing of matches,” Naziru Zeze said.

“The electric scoreboard at the Abacha Stadium is faulty and the control room gadgets are not functional. When it is overcrowded during matches, you see supporters jumping the fence,” Jibrin said.

He added that the Pillars Stadium has the same challenges with the Sani Abacha Stadium.

At Jos Stadium, People Defecate On The Toilet Floor
From Isah Abdulsalami, Jos

There are two stadia in Plateau State. The popular Rwang Pam Township Stadium named after the late Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Rwang Pam and the stadium located on Zaria Road, Jos. It is being developed to FIFA-standard in all ramifications when completed.

The Rwang Pam Stadium has been hosting football leagues, professional footballs and league matches including the two home teams, Plateau United Football Club and the Mighty Jets Football Club.

The Mighty Jets was seen as a pro-Muslim Club while Plateau United was seen as government club. But when the present administration of Governor Simon Lalong came to power, the two clubs were united and unified and treated equally as though they belonged to the same family to the admiration of people and fans.

Commenting on the Rwang Pam Stadium, a coach, Rufus Sunday said that security at the stadium was poor, adding however that the dressing room was okay.

“The toilet system is nothing to write home about as the structure has collapsed. And it is now competing with the pit toilet. It is a disgrace that the toilet is bad. You have to hold back your breath while you use the facility or you may suffocate or even vomit. One is also likely to contact toilet infection as a result of its untidy nature.

“People urinate and defecate on the floor because the toilet is full and the excreta smell from the dilapidated structure. It has been abandoned for too long. It is very bad,” he added.

The well by the Sports council at the stadium is bad because it is not properly covered and there is no pipe borne water.

The gymnasium is fair but needs improvement while other indoor games are not renovated, especially the lighting. Besides, training facilities are also not adequate and if teams want to travel, sports council is starved of funds. For example, there was a time the female basketball wanted to travel to Kaduna but the journey was scuttled due to lack of funds.

A basketball coach who pleaded anonymity said basketball should be treated equally with football because it is also a material for professional league, adding that the governor appears to favour football to the detriment of basketball because he is a footballer himself.

He said football and basketball were the two professional games in the state.  At the Zaria Stadium Jos, Victor Charles of the Plateau State Sports Council said about 65 percent of the stadium was near completion.

Charles told The Guardian that the contract for the Zaria Road project was awarded in 1988 by the then Colonel Lawrence Onoja at the cost of N33 million, adding that he gave the contractors 20 months to complete the project.

He added that before the contractors could even start, Onoja was transferred to Katsina while Colonel Aliyu Kama was brought in to replace him.

Azikiwe Stadium In Dire Need Of Rehabilitation
From Lawrence Njoku, Enugu

The Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium located in the heart of Enugu State has a sitting capacity of 22,000 spectators. The stadium, inherited from the Nigeria Railways Corporation (NRC) by the old eastern regional administration was later taken over by the Federal Government.

Following several transformations and expansion works, the stadium was approved for the FIFA U-20 World Cup hosted by Nigeria in 1999. The development raised the profile of the stadium as it led to the replacement of the natural turf with artificial turf, standard running turf with ultra matrix scoreboard, flood lights, basket ball court and indoor sports hall, among others.

Also in 2009, it was one of the stadia selected to host matches of the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA U-17) World Cup leading to the upgrade of some of its facilities.

It was however, handed over to the Enugu State government about four years ago following an application from the state government. The development ended the collaboration in management of the stadium between the Federal and Enugu State governments.

A visit to the stadium, where Rangers International Club plays its league matches as well as the CAF champion’s league, indicated that the place is in dire need of attention.

Inside the main bowl of the stadium are relics of facilities that have either been dismembered or have not worked for something now. Some seats at the stand have been dislocated, while some electrical devices have been vandalised.

One ugly thing noticed inside Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, especially at the popular side area is the level of foul smell emitting from the place. Spectators and others using the stadium usually urinate inside the gutters and drop used materials thus littering the entire areas with waste. It is not certain if the place has been cleared for quite a while.

The two public toilets in the compound have been abandoned. Visitors and business owners around the stadium urinate and defecate in the open.

While The Guardian went around the stadium premises, one of the workers ran out of his office and started urinating at the entrance of one of the abandoned public toilets.

Asked why the situation was that bad, he said: “We don’t have water to flush the toilets, again the place hass collapsed. Do you care to look in?”

A sports enthusiast, Eze Ugwu told The Guardian that no major rehabilitation had been carried out at the stadium since the state government took over the management of the facility.

‘No Electricity In Five Years’
From Anietie Akpan, Calabar

Facilities at the U.J. Esuene Stadium are in a very bad state. Apart from the main bowl, which needs re-grassing and the Olympic size swimming pool that ranked ninth in the world, all other facilities are in a state of decay.

In the wake of the proposed hosting of the 19th National Sports Festival by the Cross River State government since 2014, most facilities and spaces were tampered with for renovation and building. For instance, the four-story hostel for athletes was shut down for renovation.

For over five years the stadium has remained without electricity and all the giant generators have packed up. The floodlight is functioning but not at maximum capacity, while the electronic score board installed in 1999 for the junior World Cup is no longer functional. The two training pitches are almost with no grass and the wire fence has collapsed.

Besides, the stadium presently has no car park for vehicles in case of any serious match as the only available space was converted to building the now abandoned and controversial Multi-purpose sports complex.

Checks revealed that the $14 million sports structure is now an eye sore. Most of the materials acquired for the project are lying fallow and depreciating on daily basis. There is no boxing ring since the last one that was donated by the late renowned boxing champion, Chief Hogan Bassey in 1973. The entire stadium needs complete renovation if it is to again, host any major national or international competition.

To confirm the level of decay at the stadium, disaster was averted on a Good Friday in Calabar as the uncompleted $14m multipurpose sports hall collapsed.

Chairman of the State’s Sports Commission, Otuekong Orok Duke blamed the collapse on the contractors saying, “What I have discovered is that the contractors used substandard materials.

Obaseki To Fix Decaying Infrastructure At Ogbemudia Stadium
From Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu, Benin City

The Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium built by the late Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia as military governor of old Midwest and later Bendel State (now Edo and Delta) in 1968 has a 20,000 capacity stadium.

Formerly known as Ogbe Stadium, but changed to Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium by former governor, Lucky Igbinedion when the state hosted the National Sports Festival in 2002 following some renovation work there, the stadium has suffered dilapidation of basic infrastructure.

In February 2009, it was banned from use for the national football league for having an unsafe, below-standard playing surface.

But the Adams Oshiomhole administration made some significant changes in the stadium such as new FIFA approved turf, playing pitch and tartan track.

However, over the years, several parts of the stadium have dilapidated. In the main bowl, the tartan tracks are aging fast and need to be replaced, with the surface now filled with bumps, which now makes running in the tracks uncomfortable. Parts of the Astroturf are giving way and whenever it rains, parts of the pitch become water logged.

In the state box, none of the fans are working, while some of the sitting chairs are giving way apparently for long usage.

In the footballers’ dressing room, there are no functioning air conditioners, thereby giving little or no comfort for footballers during break.

The indoor sports hall is worse. There are no functional fans, while the facilities for gymnastic is an eyesore. The training section for boxers is terrible as parts of the roof leaks whenever it rains.

The Olympic-size swimming pool has been abandoned for years and has led to a situation where algae and other water-related growing organisms taking over the place. It is almost the same story for the regular pool that has been in use and even produced five medal winning swimmers during the national sports festival.

However, the administration of incumbent governor Godwin Obaseki held a Sports Summit where he promised to replicate the Ogbemudia performance in sports by reviving sporting facilities and activities in the state as part of its sports development effort.

Rehabilitation works have also begun in the Olympic-size swimming pool at the stadium, just as Obaseki said at the summit that he would use sports as part of his 200,000 jobs creation programme.

Famous footballer, Segun Odegbami, who chaired the summit said: “If Obaseki transfers the political will in his words into action, Edo State shall soon witness the re-birth of a truly authentic grassroots development programme that shall generate massive social and economic dividends and become a model for the rest of the country. It will be some kind of resurrection of Ogbemudia’s legacy.”

In Anambra, Stadium Project Is Politicised
From Uzoma Nzeagwu Awka

Speaking to The Guardian, a legal expert Mr. Emmanuel Okonkwo, said that what could be see in Anambra state is politics of stadium project, because each successive government promised to build one, but at the end none of them built any till date.

“Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju inherited what he called temporary old stadium located behind old Timber market in Awka, and by the time he left in 2003, nothing was done to rehabilitate or construct new stadium.

“When Senator Chris Ngige came as governor, he started the construction of a new stadium at Amanse. He started work and since he left in 2006, the project has been abandoned.

“Also governor Peter Obi came and started new stadium behind the old stadium near the Timber market. The project has not been completed almost four years he left office.”

The lawyer said that Awka capital city has no standard stadium and it has become a campaign slogan for every governorship aspirants in the state.

He said: “Government and the publics use Alex Ekwueme Square for sporting activity. The only functional stadium in the state is the Chuba Ikpeazu stadium in Onitsha, where people play football and organise other sporting activities. Government should take serious the issue of building stadium to encourage the development of sports at the grassroots level.

A trader and sports lover, Mr. Joseph Ikwuozor observed that the state capital lacks facilities like stadium, wondering why government cannot construct a standard stadium in Awka.

“No activity is going on at what people call the old stadium. However, football matches are played at the old unfinished and abandoned field near the timber market in Awka.”

Even no visible work is going on at the abandoned project in Awka, but a government source who would not want to be mentioned assured that the present administration would complete the construction of Awka stadium, blaming slow down of work on the rainy season.

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