By Dipo Olowookere
The MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja has been handed over to Africa’s richest man, Mr Aliko Dangote, for renovation. The sporting facility was transferred to him through his firm, Dangote Group, by the federal government.
According to Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, the project will be handled by Messrs Aron Nigeria Ltd and will last 24 weeks.
At the handing over ceremony on Wednesday, August 26, 2020, the Minister Mr Dare urged the contractor to move with the speed of light but stressed that when completed, efforts would be made to maintain it properly because the present government has imbibed a proper maintenance culture to guarantee that the huge sum spent on these projects are not wasted.
He commended Mr Dangote and his group for believing in the vision of the Ministry by agreeing to partner with it to restore the fading glory of the edifice.
“This landmark event reinforces my faith in the public-private sector partnership in line with the government’s efforts at delivering on our mandate.
“We cannot fund sports and maintain facilities alone. We need more private corporations to take a cue from what Mr Aliko Dangote and Mr Adebutu Kessington have done in supporting our drive to renovate and maintain our facilities for use by our athletes and to play host to international events,” Mr Dare said.
He expressed fulfilment in achieving the handing over of the facility to Mr Dangote, noting that “I promised that this pitch and indeed other facilities will be revived and put to best use by athletes… in line with that mandate, we sought the support of many philanthropists and sold them our vision of bringing back the glory days when our national stadia were filled to capacity on football game days which were the melting pot of various cultures and people of all ages.”
He thanked the businessman for responding to the call to restore the edifice after months of discussions, planning and processing.
A representative of Dangote Group, Mr Ahmed Mansur, stated that the company was committing $1 million to the project to ensure that the main bowl pitch was restored to world-class.
Present at the ceremony were the Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, Mr Obinna Ogba; President of the Nigeria Olympics Committee, Engr. Habu Gumel; Special Assistant to the President on Sports, Daniel Amokachie; Nwankwo Kanu, Garba Lawal, Tijani Babangida, Chika Chukwumerije and Gabriel Okon.
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