OPINIONSPORTS

Remodelling of Lekan Salami Sports Complex: A Job Well-done or Well-wasted?

By Chukwudimma Aaron-Okonkwo

Raising the bar of transformative governance for our dear African societies to attain envious developments with the rest of the developed world has been the yearnings of our people for the government to execute.

We have been yearning for robust economic policies that will make ours to start competing with the top 10 global economies. We have been yearning for good roads as obtained in other developed cities/countries. We have been yearning for well equipped health facilities as seen in other saner climes. We have been yearning for good sporting facilities as watched on television when foreign football clubs are playing. And more.

Yet, when the government we elected to provide all these gigantic infrastructures does its best to raise the bar of development from dilapidation caused by total neglect and mismanagement to an all-time world class standard project for our greater benefits, we still cry blue murder that the government is doing it the wrong way or not doing it well enough.

No society truly develops when its people go to rubbishing the efforts put in place by the government as per transforming the environment for their own betterment. It is purely an unfair treatment to crucify a government whose vision is truly to develop the society for the greater good of all.

The Oyo State government of Engr Seyi Makinde, for all intents and purposes, has been a visionary one for the people of the state and so doesn’t deserve the rubbishing of its developmental efforts specifically on the renovation and remodeling of Lekan Salami Sports Complex, otherwise known by the locals as Adamasingba Stadium in Ìbàdàn, the state capital.

Historically, the sports complex was built in 1976 by the then military governor of the state, General David Jemibewon. Twelve years later, precisely in 1988, it got renamed after a great philanthropist and sports enthusiast, Chief Lekan Salami and opened to the sports loving people.

The sports complex which is a home stadium to former champions of the Nigerian Premier League, Shooting Stars Sports Club, 3SC and other local teams, has been begging for renovation until the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP government of Engr Seyi Makinde assumed office. The 45-year-old stadium was so dilapidated that the 3SC teams and management had to be pushed out to a stadium outside the state for the playing of their matches. The pitch among other facilities in the stadium were so poor and outdated.

Luck smiled to the sports complex on August, 2020. On this day, the governor granted approval for the remodelling and upgrading of its facilities to enviable international standard. This means upgrading the 45-year-old facility to Federation of International Football Association, FIFA standard so that it can be hosting top grade international matches.

A training pitch, seats, electronic scoreboards, video assistant referee (VAR) facilities, pitch-side monitors, automated floodlights, sundry lighting, match officials’ rooms, youth centre/ball boys rooms, a studio with automated gadgets, CCTV, a clinic, hospitality suites for VIPs, and power house are facilities and amenities to be installed in the newly remodelled stadium.

Others include: a Hall of Fame, a world-class Tennis Court with sitting and wet areas, indoor sports hall for a variety of sporting activities (boxing, weightlifting, wrestling, kick-boxing, and powerlifting), a new Olympic size swimming pool, and luxury apartments (will be rented out on yearly subscription).

Are all those above not gigantic projects that will require time phases for successful completion?

Now, the total cost is an estimation valued at #5.6 billion naira (approximately £6 million). Is this amount worth being spent on such a world class sporting facility? Before we attempt to answer that question, it is imperative to note that the fixing of the sports edifice is in phases.

On the 1st of September, 2021, the government decided to unveil the sports complex for the return of 3SC team and its management to Ìbàdàn from Dipo Dina Stadium, Ìjẹ̀bú Ode, Ogun State where they have been (for a long time) making use of the facility to train and play matches.

The unveiling of the stadium on that day meant that the construction work is still in progress, but earnestly needed for use by 3SC and the ever sports loving youths in the state capital.

However, before the day of the unveiling, the governor visited the sports complex to inspect the level of work done. Then, on the night of the unveiling proper, the heavens opened its flood gates to shower blessing on the people. It rained. A heavy downpour there was.

While the unveiling programme was still ongoing with a novelty match between 3SC and NK Tabor Sežana, a top Slovanian league side, the pitch got waterlogged. Part of the rooftops also leaked water.

The swiftness by which mischievous elements, mainly from the opposition camp, grabbed on this unfortunate situation to crucify the government indicated that they have been laying in ambush for a good opportunity to attack the government in respect to the gigantic project. Opposition elements called the project a scam and questioned why the flooded pitch and the leaking roofs. They laid strong emphasis on #5.6billion approved for the project, lamenting that the money spent on the project is a waste and that such money should not have been spent on the upgrading of the sporting facility. Such a colourful bliss of ignorance!

Many a people that destructively criticized the notable project failed in their mischief making to understand that the ongoing construction work in the multipurpose Adamasingba Stadium is in phases.

Let’s be fair to Governor Seyi Makinde, GSM and his government. They have done so well with the remodeling of the sports facility to FIFA standard. That the heavens opened its watergate and emptied its water contents into the stadium pitch on the very night of unveiling is a welcome development. It is a blessing and something to be proud of.

It is neither a show of shame nor is the money spent on the project so far a waste. I said so because the project work is being undertaken in phases. And what has just been completed for the unveiling ceremony to be done was the first phase!

Meanwhile, the contractors explained to the government during the inspection that the new pitch requires three months to completely solidify so that automatic drainage system would become fully functional. In effect, this means that the waterlogged pitch problem is solved!

Stadium, as we would say with Rome, is not built in a day. It takes time to build and adequate time to solidify.

So far, the contractor handling the huge project has done well. So good, the government has done wonder. All we must give them is constructive encouragement and not a destructive discouragement.

This gigantic project when fully completed will be utilized to boost the economy of the state as sports business brings huge investment returns these days. It will encourage our talented youths to participate in sporting activities as well as engage unemployed people as workers in the stadium. As a consequence, the menace of youth restiveness is curbed while also reducing the rate of unemployment in Oyo State. It will also see international football teams such as Manchester City of England visit the stadium to play matches.

A job well-done so far! Omi tuntun ìgbà òtún!!

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