Ministry concessions stadia, begins process of updating facilities
• May get additional funds for Rio 2016 preparation
Efforts are on to resuscitate all Federal Government’s sporting facilities across the country, including the National Stadium, Lagos, Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, has revealed.
The minister has also revealed that his ministry would soon get additional funds from the Presidency to begin final preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Speaking in Lagos at the weekend, Dalung said he has set up a committee to audit the federal facilities and recommend measures that would put them in good shape.
He said: “I am not going to build new facilities when the ones we have are not being utilized effectively. So, what I will do is to update all the facilities to make them useful to our athletes.
“We have secured a sponsor, a developer backed by banks to refurbish the National Stadium, Lagos. He will also build a five-star hotel within the facility.
“The Abuja Stadium will also be redeveloped by a concessionaire, who will build an artificial lake within the facility.
“The committee on the facilities will visit all the training centres, including Afuze Games Village and others, which now look like local shrines. They will be brought back to life. All the abandoned projects scattered all over the country will be completed and put to use.”
Dalung disclosed that his ministry had not been able to call Team Nigeria athletes to camp for the final build up to the Rio 2016 Olympics because it lacked the resources to do that, adding that his ministry’s inability to account for the N2.9 billion released by the Federal Government last year has made it impossible to get more money from the Presidency.
“The N2.9 billion was released to the former director general of the defunct NSC and the Presidency said it must be accounted for before they will give us more money.
“A few days ago, I got the explanation of how the money was spent, but I believe we can do better than that. We have to be tidy in everything we do so that people will look at us with respect.
“The money was meant for the 2015 African Games, as well as preparation and participation in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but as I am talking to you now, I don’t have money to call our athletes to camp, and we have not been able to go back to the Presidency for more money because we have not retired the one they gave to us.”
Dalung also explained that he had no hand in the scrapping of the National Sports Commission (NSC), saying it was done within the purview of the civil service.
“The Federal Government was in the process of merging some of the departments and ministries when I assumed office in November. I was not a member of the body charged with that responsibility, but I knew about the proceedings through the permanent secretary, who briefed me on what was going on.
“Unfortunately, the former NSC Director General, Alhassan Yakmut, had a good argument on why the NSC should be retained, but he never brought that argument to me. I would have been able to convince the committee on the need to retain the NSC. And so when he came to me after the committee had concluded its assignment, there was nothing I could do about it. I could not call them back to begin the process afresh.”
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