Aggrieved stakeholders in the sports sector have cried out over what they termed “the secret concession” of the dilapidated National Stadium, Lagos.
Immediately after his appointment as Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Enoh lamented the state of the stadium, adding that the concession process to hand over the facility to the private sector had “gone far.”
“I weep for the state of this infrastructure. This should not be the symbol of our sports in a city referred to as a sports city. The overall feeling is that of disappointment whose potential can surpass that of other nations,” Enoh stated on his first visit to the stadium in September.
“We need to look for smart and quick solutions to revive the Lagos National Stadium as soon as possible. I am glad that the process towards the concession of the facility has gone far. If that is what it will take to restore the glory of this facility, I endorse it 100 per cent.”
When our correspondent visited the decaying national monument on Monday, it was learnt that officials were already taking inventory of the facilities inside the stadium, ahead of announcing the takeover of the 51-year-old edifice.
However, some stakeholders raised eyebrows over the move, saying the concession of the facility was shrouded in secrecy, adding it was a signal that the bidding for the takeover of the facility did not follow due process. Some others also sought to know when the bidding for the facility was advertised, who was involved and how transparent the process was.
A stakeholder, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told our correspondent that the only working facilities inside the stadium like the tennis courts, boxing hostel and Olympic-size swimming pool were courtesy of the private sector, adding that the individuals who spent large sums in bringing back these facilities to life were not carried along in the concession process.
“Some people have been coming to the stadium to take inventory of the facilities here (stadium) and we hear they are doing this before they concession the place to some people we know nothing about. If the minister says the concessioning of the place has gone far, by now we should know who is involved and how transparent the process is. But there was no advert to that effect. Is this in line with the Procurement Act? What is the fate of those who spent billions of Naira to keep this place functional? Have they consulted them? The government can’t just kick them out after they were given permission by the same government to invest in the stadium. Everything is shrouded in secrecy and it shouldn’t be,” our source said.
A retired athlete also raised the alarm over the process.
“Why are they not telling us those involved in this secret concession? Are those taking over the facility sports lovers? What are they bringing to the table? The other time, we learnt that some people wanted to take over the stadium because of the large expanse of unused land at the back of the stadium, which they wanted to convert to an estate. Who are these new people, and what is their motive? This secret approach is making us think otherwise,” he said.
Veteran sports journalist Effiong Nyong, also voiced his fears on Arise TV.
“The concession is very disturbing and worrisome,” Nyong said. “The minister said the processes (of the concessioning) are almost complete but you begin to ask, ‘when did it start? Who are those that tendered for it? Whats the procurement and procedures that were followed? Who are the companies and individuals behind it?’ All of these is shrouded in some mystery. So, why this announcement at this stage?”
He added, “Concessioning is good in the public-private partnership, that we are partners in progress. But (in this case) there are some persons already partnering with government. If you go to swimming pool, it’s already there, it’s working, if you go to tennis, a group also runs the section and its working. It’s the same thing with table tennis, which was made possible when Enitan Oshodi was the Lagos commissioner of sports. So, if concessions are going to be made, what roles are these persons playing? Have they been given first offer of refusal? How are they involved in this? The information we have is that some persons have been appointed, and some persons are going to take over. Who are they? Why are they there? What have they done before? No answers.”
when asked the fate of the investors in the in stadium when the stadium is finally concessioned, Director of Facilities, Ministry of Sports Development, Abolore Alanamu, said the ministry would “sort it out.”
“The ministry will decide all that, I don’t know the plans but at the appropriate time, certainly they will sort it out,” Alanamu told The PUNCH.