Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode has said his administration is ready to take over the National Stadium in Lagos from the Federal Government and transform it to world class sporting centre.
Ambode said this, yesterday, after he inspected facilities at the 45-year-old stadium, in company with the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung, who described the stadium as a disaster and national shame.
The governor bemoaned the deplorable condition of the stadium and expressed preparedness to hit the ground running towards restoring the stadium once it is officially handed to the state. Ambode said his administration has decided to prove a point that sports is a sure way to fighting recession.
“This visit is historic. I recall that during our campaign, we promised that we are going to use tourism, entertainment and arts and sports to drive youth employment as well as drive excellence. So, this is just one chapter in that roadmap to growing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Lagos. With the state of affairs here, we cannot fold our arms and just leave this monument to waste away. The last match that was played here was played about 12 years ago, but, the truth is this, the inner key to youth empowerment and youth employment is actually in re-establishing this edifice to its real world class standard.”
He commended Dalung for spearheading the move to handover the stadium to the state and expressed optimism that the journey, which has started, would eventually lead to a formal pronouncement.
Earlier, Dalung lamented the dilapidated condition of the stadium, and described it as “a national disaster which calls for serious and comprehensive action to reposition and return it to its pride of place.
“We have gone round and we have seen the edifice in a sorry state. Whatever we can do to arrest the situation, we must do it. In my village, there is an adage, which says ‘once there is fire disaster, there is no choice of liquid and any liquid that can contribute to extinguish the fire, must be mobilised, including liquor.’
Elsewhere, Ambode signed a sweeping environmental bill into law, concluding a year-long elaborate plan to overhaul the state’s environmental, waste management and handling practices. The bill harmonises all existing environmental laws and takes on environmental concerns that were not expressly addressed in the pre-existing laws governing the industry.
At the signing ceremony, Ambode said: “I am delighted that our bill has been signed into law.
“Under this initiative, we have (referring to the public and private sector) worked collectively to make laws that will result in historic environmental victories. Our major environmental laws are outdated and do not address our present-day challenges. We exist in a world where the protection and preservation of public health and the environment have evolved and are primarily driven by data. We cannot compete if our laws are based on obsolete information,” he said.
The governor also commended the state House of Assembly. “I know the process of change may seem daunting at first, but, ultimately, this shows that we can achieve a lot on our own and we can join with others for the common good of Lagos State.
We have taken everyone along the value chain into consideration from the existing PSPs, to the cart pushers and the scavengers on the landfills.”
The governor added that the new initiative will “create 27,500 new jobs and deploy over 500 vehicles during the concession period…”
We are bringing in world renowned environmental groups to construct multiple engineered landfills and transform our water and wastewater treatment sectors.”
The newly signed bill will also drive the adoption of innovative technology to tackle existing environmental problems specific to the state, allowing for private sector participation in the management of the environment, therefore opening the sector to foreign and domestic investors.
The law gives Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) the authority to review and regulate all waste management activities within the state while a rebranded Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI), which will be transformed into the Environmental Sanitation Corps Agency will spearhead enforcement of stringent penalties imposed on defaulters.
In the new dispensation, the Lagos State Environment Corps (LASECORPS)’s performance evaluations and remuneration will be tied directly to the number of actionable fines they issue for non-compliance.
Also, LASECORPS will be supported by Public Utilities Monitoring Assurance Unit (PUMAU), a unit that will have oversight responsibility by using innovative monitoring tools to ensure the new standards are effectively enforced.
In attendance at the bill signing were the private sector, SEC regulated trustees that will manage the Environmental Trust Fund, including FBN Merchant Bank, Stanbic IBTC, United Capital PLC, STL Trustees Ltd, United Trustees Ltd, Camden Yards Ltd, Union Trust, Afrinvest, Exczellon Capital and APEL Trustees.
He urged Governor Ambode to revamp the Stationary Football Club of Lagos.
Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Mr. Amaju PInnick and other top government functionaries, accompanied the minister and governor during the tour.
Some of the facilities inspected include the Molade Okoya tennis hall, 3,000 capacity multi-purpose indoor sports hall, beach soccer pitch, synthetic football pitch and the 38,000 capacity main bowl football field.
The National Stadium comprises an Olympic-size swimming pool and a multipurpose arena for basketball, volleyball, table tennis, wrestling and boxing.
The stadium, mostly used for football matches until 2001, had hosted several international competitions, including the 1980 African Cup of Nations finals, the 2000 African Cup of Nations finals, and FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.
It also served as the main stadium for the 1973 All-Africa Games. It was closed and abandoned in 2004.
President Muhammadu Buhari had approved that the Ahmadu Bello Stadium be given to Kaduna State as well as Enugu and Calabar stadia to Enugu and Akwa Ibom State governments respectively.