By Olanrewaju Akojede
Lagos, – The contractor handling the refurbishment of Onikan Stadium, Lagos, Zekeriya Oktem, has said that the first design of the facility was cancelled because Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode wanted the best for the state.
Oktem, the Managing Director, Slavabogu Nigeria Ltd, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos that the first redesigning of the 88-year-old stadium did not pass Ambode’s test for the best infrastructure.
NAN reports that Onikan Stadium, located on Lagos Island close to Tafawa Balewa Square, was built in 1930.
The stadium was formerly named King George V before it was renamed Lagos City Stadium. The stadium was also renovated in the 1980s.
It is famous for being the home ground for top Nigerian clubs such as Stationery Stores, First Bank and Julius Berger and has a sitting capacity of 5,000.
The stadium also hosted the 1999 Youth World Cup, hosted by Nigeria.
Oktem gave the insight to the slight delay in the delivery of the stadium during the on the spot assessment of the ongoing refurbishment by the Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC) Chairman, Kweku Tandoh.
“The governor of Lagos State, Ambode is a man of impeccable vision and is passionate about the design of the stadium, so he was not too excited with the first one.
“The governor wanted the best for the state, so, after the Sports Exhibition in Germany, he met with some FIFA consultants and programme members and brought a new design.
“He is very happy with the design, so it passed his test because he wanted the best. So, when we finalised the design according to the FIFA’s standard, we commenced work.
“Everything has to be according to standard from the pitch dimension to the accessibility, facilities, doping rooms, referees room, emergency exit and changing rooms among others,’’ he said.
Oktem said that the government would apply for the FIFA’s certification after the completion which would make the stadium more appreciated.
“Everything we are doing in the redesigning of the stadium is according to FIFA’s standards and we will also apply for the certification from FIFA upon completion.
“The certification will allow the stadium to host any FIFA organised competition. We have been working with the best standard not only in design but also in materials for the construction.
“It has been a great achievement having this structure in Lagos because upon completion it will transformed to an international tourist centre,’’ he said.