By Olanrewaju Akojede
Lagos -The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare on Tuesday rose to the defense of the demolition of the illegal shanties in the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, saying that the edifice was not a market place.
Dare made the assertion while responding to questions on the sideline of the signing of the N150m worth league sponsorships Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), between Total E&P and the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF).
Dare, who witnessed the ceremony held in Lagos, said the policy of the government in switching from sports being a recreational activity to business model was already yielding positive results.
There has been an outcry on what many perceived as injustice in ejecting traders on the premises of the National Stadium but which the minister said on the contrary was to save the edifice from gross abuse.
Dare said that the National Stadium, Surulere, must be returned to its original blueprint so as to attract viable investors and for a smooth concessional process.
“Because there is COVID-19 that has not stopped the police from checking crime and not an excuse for illegality. 18 years we have seen the stadium being used for purposes other than sports.
“We have started a new regime of trying to develop our sports infrastructures, a new initiative around sports. This facility is an iconic monument for sports development.
“It is a sports complex, any other purposes for which it is being used will not be acceptable, it is not a market and not a beer palour.
“What we have done is to return it to its original blueprint and prepare it for concession. The concession is on its last stage because we have been receiving bids,” he said.
Dare said that for the stadium to be appealing to investors, illegal structures must give way, adding that provisions has been made for a shopping mall inside the stadium.
“The investors must have access to the stadium unencumbered and if anyone goes there now, such will be shocked that the stadium is that beautiful.
“This is because we have pulled down those shanties and before the end of the year, we will see changes in the stadium.
“We hope to build a 150 capacity shopping mall that the traders can come and be in a single market place,” he said.