Stakeholders Appeal To Minister On Renovation Of National Stadium As Deadline Nears
By Oni Afolabi
Members of the National Stadium community have appealed to the Honorable Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare to give a serious thoughts to the latest 7 days quit notice issued to business owners inside the premises amidst speculations of its renovation.
This appeal became necessary going by the economic implication of the sudden eviction notice as Nigerians struggle with economic hardship as occassioned by Covid-19 pandemic.
The stakeholders said the Federal Government should not distance itself from the harsh economic reality on ground as all policies and decisions should be citizens centred.
Leading the charge is the former Chairman of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (Lagos Chapter), Fred Edoreh who appealed to the Federal Government to give a human face to the proposed renovation of the National Stadium in Lagos.
Speaking with newsmen, the foremost sports journalist commended the Minister for kickstarting the long awaited renovation of one of Nigeria’s national heritage which many of his predecessors failed to achieve.
“It gladdens my heart that in my lifetime, National Stadium in Lagos will wear a new look. But, while we embark on this massive project, we must also be strategic in our approach.”
Edoreh said, “It is more inauspicious at this period that their means of livelihood had been truncated for months by the Covid-19 lockdown and just when it seems to be easing and they are looking forward to returning to pick their lives again, the government strikes to kill their hope with an eviction.”
An aggrieved tenant, Odetola Rebecca wondered why rush in giving tenants quit notice when the concessioning had not yet been finalised.
“Everything about this country is all about the more you look, the less you see. There was no bidding process for the taking over of the stadium which is against due process. Come to think of it, many people have invested million of their private funds into putting life into some of these dilapidated structures over the years. Is this is how the government wants to repay them?”
A special athlete (name withheld) who owns a shop inside the premises wondered how the government expects them to deal with the emotional shock and economic implications.
“As a disabled athlete, with lesser attention from the government, I have been able to set up this small scale business to support myself and members of my family.”
“Looking around, you will see that I am not just the only disabled athlete who has a shop where we sell soft drinks, stationery and other things needed by staff working inside the stadium, athletes as well as other visitors”
According to him, the government should at least provide alternatives rather than an outright ejection.
“We have kids, aged parents, wives and extended family members who depend on us. Whatever affects our finances will definitely affect them.”
A sports kit shop owner, Olufemi Adewale on his part said, “It is not as we erected illegal structures to deface the stadium. We are bonafide occupants and rent paying tenants who got approval from the ministry before setting up our businesses. This 7 days eviction notice is just too sudden. We appeal to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari to come to our aid.”
“We have contributed in no small measures in driving traffic to the stadium through our legitimate business activities while we also pay our taxes. Rather than frustrate us out, the government should ask about the rents we pay and other revenues generated by the stadium management over the years and why the edifice was abandoned. If we are chased out like common criminals, I wonder how the government wants us to survive.”
According to findings, over 3,000 Nigerians may be directly affected by the latest decision.