The Gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has promised to give sports sector a special boost if elected in the coming elections.
Specifically, Sanwo-Olu who was on a special visit to the secretariat of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) Lagos Chapter, promised he would revisit the failed bid of the state to take over the National Stadium, Surulere.
Lagos submitted a bid in 2016 for full take over of the 45-year old complex but the proposal did not get the approval of Federal Government.
“I don’t know what is wrong with us in this country. Why should a Director or Permanent Secretary that the Presidency directed to look into the concession bid of Lagos fail to carry out such instructions simply because they did not see the good in the project?
“A project meant for about 20 million people that live in Lagos was sat upon by those opposed to the state taking over the sports complex while the facility continues to rot. Lagos State, I understand, wrote the bids, pleading for the take over to benefit its citizens and to put it into good use.
“I have discussed with the Chairman (of Lagos State Sports Commission) on the next line of action which is to intensify our efforts, and maybe we will have to go through the legislative arm of government since we have the majority leader in the House of Representatives from Lagos.”
Sanwo-Olu pleaded with the Federal Government to take another look into the request of Lagos to take over the stadium and put it into good use.
“The Federal government should grant us access to the biggest sporting facility in the country which has been locked down and we will put it to good use if we are elected,” he pleaded.
The edify was built in 1972 by the Yakubu Gowon-led administration to host the 2nd All Africa Games held in 1973.
The stadium is now in a sorry state and a national embarrassment. It last played host to a major international match in 2001 when Super Eagles defeated Zambia by a lone goal in an African Cup of Nations qualifying match for Mali 2002.
Aside the All-Africa Games in 1972, the stadium hosted the African Cup of Nations tournament in 1980 and 2000. It also played host to FIFA Under-20 World Youth Championship (now Under-20 World Cup in 1999.
Sanwo-Olu also pledged to build more mini stadiums around the state to compliment the rest that are in use despite inadequate land scape in Lagos.
He also pledged that sports under his administration would be autonomous and separated from entertainment..
“This sector deserves special attention and we will ensure that restive youths would be fully engaged in the rediscovery of their talents in the drive to bring back the old glory associated with the state in the National Sports Festival.
“Although I’m aware that other states poached athletes who have been groomed by the state when the national event is coming up, it is on record that Lagos do not need to do same because we have abundant talents.
“Lagos State Sports Commission will continue with its policies such as giving training grants to athletes and empowering coaches with up to date knowledge of their respective sports while motivation of athletes will not be neglected,” Sanwo-Olu concluded.