Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Renovation: November Deadline And Matters Arising
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By Our Correspondent
On September 6, 2023, the Enugu State Governor, His Excellency, Dr Peter Ndubisi Mbah in a press release declared that the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, NAS which has been under renovation since October 2021, will be ready by November.
The Governor gave assurance that the State owned club , Rangers International FC will return to its traditional home, “the Cathedral” in November for the continuation of the 2024 Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL season.
“In the area of sports management, we have taken immediate steps to complete the re-laying of the playing surface at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium.
“All requisite payments have been made and we can assure all lovers of Rangers Club that our darling team will return to playing its home games in our own stadium before the end of November,” the Governor had said.
However, the reality is different. The stadium, according to the Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Enugu State, Hon. Lloyd Ekweremadu, is “ready essentially”
Best Choice Sports visited the the stadium and was told that work has reached completion stage. But Rangers returning to the stadium in November is no longer tenable.
Our correspondent gathered that the materials for the relaying of astro turf on the pitch arrived the stadium on October 25. A source, who is part of the engineers in the site, told our correspondent then that , “all things being equal” it would take a maximum of two weeks to lay the turf.
Interestingly, the work lingered for over a month, thereby prolonging Rangers expected home return.
At the core of the misunderstanding between the Enugu State Government, represented by the Commissioner for Youth and Sports and the contractor handling the renovation,
Reforms Sports West Africa Limited mistrust.
Our impeccable source said that Reforms Sports West Africa Limited has been diligent in their work and ready to complete the renovation on schedule
Following the “delay” in completion of the work, the Enugu State Government allegedly contracted another firm to complete the work. Our source noted that the Reforms Sports West Africa Limited workers were banned from entering the pitch for some days by an “order” from the Commissioner.
He said on Tuesday, when we contacted him, “I am right in the stadium now. But we can’t enter the pitch due to Commissioner’s order. I don’t understand what is going on but there is another fitm also in the stadium. I will give you feedback later” he said on the phone.
There is no Misunderstanding – Commissioner
Reacting to the development, the Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Hon. Ekweremadu said there “was no misunderstanding” between both parties as each other’s responsibilities were defined.
“There is no misunderstanding really. We understand ourselves. We are both clear on each other’s position, that’s all,” he told our correspondent in an interview.
With the back-and-forth situation ongoing at the stadium, what is factual is that Rangers International FC will continue to be ”homeless” as far as the the 2024 NPFL season is concerned.
The seven-time Nigeria champions have been playing their home matches away at the Awka City Stadium, in Awka, the Anambra State Capital.