The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has approved the rehabilitation and upgrade of the 5,000 capacity Onikan Stadium, near Tafawa Balewa Square Lagos Island, in line with expectations of a 21st Century sporting facility. The stadium’s upgrade according to report is also in line with the new Onikan-Marina Regeneration plan.
However, earlier in the year, Ambode and the sports minister visited the Lagos National Stadium in order to take possession of the edifice, but nothing concrete is put on ground, months after the visit.
In a statement issued by the State’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, the State Government said the upgrade demonstrates its commitment to use sports as a potent tool for development and job creation; adding that the stadium, which is the oldest in Nigeria, was originally built in 1930 but was last renovated in the 1980s.
According to the Commissioner, the reconstruction of the stadium is in consonance with the vision of the present administration to transform the facility and other infrastructure within the locality into a tourism hub and make the stadium available for various sporting activities, especially football.
“The upgrading of the stadium will rekindle the interest of football fans in local league, as well as promote sports tourism, take sports to greater heights and encourage youth activities,” he said.
While noting that the upgraded stadium will further cement the State’s desire to attain a Host City status for local and international tournaments, Ayorinde remarked that it would also impact positively on the State’s revenue generation.
Elaborating on the scope of the upgrade, the Commissioner said the work would entail complete demolition of the existing facility, removal of the old turf, pitch, underground drainage and artificial pitch base.
He further stated that rehabilitation works would also be done on external and internal walls, electrical and mechanical installations; paved driveways, perimeter fence; borehole and water reticulation as well as external electricity lighting and landscaping amongst others.
Onikan Stadium has, over the years, served as a multi-purpose stadium used for many social and political activities apart from hosting of football matches but its fortunes nosedived in the past few years due to inadequate funding and maintenance.
“The Governor realized that the stadium in its present state could not inspire any sense of pride in Lagosians, especially our youths, and falls short of the expectations of a State that has always led the rest of the country in sporting activities,” Ayorinde noted.
He added that the reconstruction and upgrade of the stadium would complement the adjoining JK Randle Arts Centre, the proposed Lagos Museum, the Lagos History Centre as well as the Lagos Heritage Centre which are all tourism-inspired projects.
“Governor Ambode is passionate about sports development in the state, from the grassroots to the world stage and he is excited that the reconstruction will rekindle the love for local football league that is synonymous with the stadium and Lagos Island,” Ayorinde said.