Former Green Eagles winger, Adegoke Adelabu, has described the decision by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, to earmark $1 million for the renovation of some parts of the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja, as ‘heartwarming’.
Dangote’s commitment came on Wednesday about nine months after he promised to renovate the 60,000 capacity stadium, which has morphed from a monument of national pride to a site of national embarrassment, with dilapidated facilities, grass and garbage littering virtually every spot.
At the handing over ceremony in Abuja, the Group Executive Director, Dangote Group, Mansur Ahmed, affirmed that the billionaire businessman would ensure the main bowl of the stadium is restored to world-class.
“This is good news to all sports lovers in the country that the MKO Abiola Stadium will have a new lease of life,” Adelabu told The Guardian yesterday.
“Too many people, the stadium is a man-made theatre for sports entertainment, but to some of us, it is a theatre of physical activities where destiny is shaped. Taking a cursory look at stadia all over the world, they will tell you the level of development of sport in those nations. When you look at the human capacity for development, physical structures are built to accommodate the ever-increasing cognitive activities of the people,” he stated.
Adelabu, who played club football with the IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan, adds: “What we have seen in our nation over time is that the decline in the state of our sporting infrastructure is directly proportional to the level of development of the people charged with the responsibility of running our sport.
“How can we build one of the costliest stadia in the world and nothing good came out of it? In sports management, stadia are built with the vision and strategic plans to create and organise activities that will increase the fans emotional demands and well-being, which will result in revenue generation that will pay for the money spent in building the stadium.
How can the Federal government build a stadium and still be responsible for the payment of staff working in the stadium?
“The renovation of the MKO Stadium in Abuja by Dangote is a welcome gesture. The amount of money committed to this noble cause is commendable. My candid advice is that apart from giving the cash, Alhaji Dangote should see areas that he has the manpower within his company or through referral to handle and give them out so that the job will be professionally executed.
“The entire sports organisation needs renovation at every level. I hope the government will seek out more philanthropists like Alhaji Dangote to help renovate the human infrastructure within our sports industry. It is essential that we uphold adequate maintenance values, which will help us to sustain the health of Nigerians, both human and physical infrastructures. I say thank you to Alhaji Dangote,” Adelabu stated.
Sports minister, Sunday Dare, had earlier commended Dangote for coming in to shoulder the responsibility of renovating parts of the stadium.