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LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT, WHERE IS AJEGUNLE’S STADIUM?

Olaitan Nurudeen

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LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT, WHERE IS AJEGUNLE’S STADIUM?

By Valiant Samson Idowu-Alaba

 

On September 12, 2016, the Lagos state Government, through its Director General, Lagos state Sports Commission, Gbolahan Adewunmi Ogunsanya, disclosed that the state has concluded plans to build mini stadiums in Agege, Ajegunle and Lagos Island with the specific mention of the Maracana Stadium as one of the designated sites to be constructed with modern facilities. By 2018, whilst that of Agege and the Campos stadium in Lagos Island were delivered, that of Ajegunle still remains a mirage in 2020. This is unfair and a travesty, to say the least.

If for anything, the first port of call where a mini stadium is to be situated should be Ajegunle. The amount or quantity of sports talents that we have produced dwarfs that of any place not only in Lagos but also in the country, I stand to be corrected anyway. Ajegunle is where many ex-internationals were discovered and building a modern or upgrading the Maracana Stadium to a world-class facility, will only unearth new talents to the world and will also spur established stars like Jude Ighalo to think of partnering with both local and state governments into investing in sports development.

For how long will Ajegunle continue to languish behind other areas we are doing better than in terms of sports, especially football? Make no mistake, I’m not averse with the siting of mini stadiums in Agege and Lagos Island as they also deserve it just as ‘we’ do but the continued delay or the seeming abandonment of our stadium, leaves us to begrudge them. This may perhaps be one of the fallouts of our desertion of the State Cabinet since 2011, an ignominy I raised last year. When you don’t have anyone representing your interests at the highest level of decision making, these are the kind of developmental projects that elude you. It’s a shame.

On August 25, 2012, Obinna Nwabueze, Vice Chairman, Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Council, had made an appeal on behalf of the residents of Ajegunle when top state government officials led by then Information Commissioner, Aderemi Ibirogba, monitored the sanitation exercise in the area. Nwabueze said that Ajegunle had become known for producing great sports stars, adding that many national and international sporting heroes had emerged from the community.

“We want the state government to build at least a mini stadium here, where our talented youths can practice and develop their skills to become the next generation of sporting stars. Ajegunle, we all know, is a talent-based community and has helped to produce national stars like Samson Siasia and others who the teeming youths in this area see as role models. But, it is ironical that with this long history of talent discovery, Ajegunle, as of today, cannot boast of a single playing field. “The situation now is that our talents are being wasted. “We are calling on the state government to support our talents. They can convert the open spaces in this community to sports centres,“ he said.

The construction of a mini stadium in Ajegunle by now would have complimented the bold efforts Alhaji Fatai Ayoola, who is the Ajeromi Ifelodun council chairman, is making to bring about a quantum leap in sports development. He has demonstrated genuine admiration and passion for sports development in the local government, with the building of facilities at three public schools, one of which was commissioned by Deputy Governor Obafemi Hamzat in 2019. Because he wanted to get things done, the council chairman has had to fly abroad to lure investors into partnering with the LG in upgrading the Maracana Stadium, since the state government is dithering. Since the public wouldn’t care who does what, they just want to see the job gets done.

These are the kind of issues the political leaders, opinion moulders, leaders in their own rights within the LG should be putting in the front burner of discourse. They need to coalesce their grievances, egocentrism, amplify their voices to be heard and acquiesced to this demand. This is the only way they can draw the attention of the state in committing to the deluge of promises it has always made which remain unfulfilled yet. We now have another occupant at the Round House but Government is continuum and I like to think if the old government has failed in this regard, the new one shouldn’t and can pick it up. It’s all about the state and the people. Afterall, the new occupant, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, also promised to get the project done during his campaign to Ajegunle ahead of the election that brought him into the apex position in the state.

The new state government may wish to take over the project in its entirety having been part of the original plans four years ago or assist the LG with counterpart funding if it wishes not to go ahead with building the stadium all by itself. The state government has a moral burden to pick one choice here and let its plan be known ahead of the 2021 Appropriations since this year has already been setback or challenged by the pandemic with the 2020 budget cut by more than N200 billion Naira.

 

Idowu-Alaba is a political analyst and writes from Ajegunle (May 26, 2020). For more information you can reach him via: valiantid2@yahoo.com

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Nurudeen Olaitan is a Linguist, Teacher, and Adventurer. He is Passionate about Sport, Travelling, Writing, & Politics. He puts Humanity above anyone or anything & hold Honesty and Integrity in high esteem.Reach him via nakata@newsliveng.com/ olaitanurudeen@gmail.com or @nurdeanO on Twitter

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