By Rose Onda
The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development today formally received the rehabilitated Moshood Abiola Stadium pitch and Digital Score-boards from the Dangote Industries Group (DIG) that revived it after years of neglect under the “Adopt-a-pitch” initiative of the Honourable Minister, Sunday Dare.
In his remarks, as the representative of the Chairman of Dangote Industries Group(DIG), Aliko Dangote, the Executive Director, Stakeholder Management and Corporate Communications of the Group, Alh. Mansur Ahmed, stated that the formal hand-over of the rehabilitated pitch is a testimony of the commitment of the company to sports development and supporting Football – a foremost sports, Nigerians are passionate about.
“As we all know, Nigerian players are international but until now, we don’t have an international standard facility and our commitment is to work with the Ministry to make sure that this particular facility remains of international standard. We are therefore happy to contribute by this renovation, and by the arrangement to maintain it for the next two years”, Mr. Ahmed added.
The Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Ismaila Abubakar lauded the Dangote Group for believing in the vision of the Minister and the Ministry, and exemplifying a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) that works. He restated the commitment of the Ministry to ensure that the new facility is put to productive use and properly maintained.
In his submission, the Special Adviser to the President on Sports, a former Nigerian International, Daniel Amokachi showered encomiums on the Minister for his foresight in thinking out of the box to fix the dilapidated pitch. He charged the Dangote Group to consider extending the period of maintenance beyond 2 years, stating that after expending $1m to renovate the facility, long-term maintenance is paramount.
Whilst receiving the formal handover documents from the Executive Director, Projects, Aron Nigeria Ltd, Soji Adeniji – the contractor handling the project, the Minister lauded the contractor and the Dangote Group for completing the project in record time, despite constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“By the words of the experts here and those that have toured the facility, we have the latest grass here – Paspalum grass, one of the best, when we talk about football pitches across the World. Something exactly similar to what we have in Qatar, that will be used for the World Cup next year.
“We thank Alh. Aliko Dangote for opening his doors to us, and accepting to adopt the Moshood Abiola Stadium when we came up with our ‘Adopt-a-Pitch’ proposal. We salute his commitment that culminated in the completion of the project today, inclusive of maintenance for at least two years,” Dare emphasised.
The renovated pitch, aside from the new Digital Score-boards, has a nursery being cultivated to produce fresh grass to replace withered ones when necessary, and sprinklers to keep the grass lush green all year round.
Only a few months ago, the President of the World Soccer Governing Body, FIFA, Gianni Infantino, while on a visit to the Stadium, commended the quality of the new pitch and promised to facilitate the hosting of international matches on it.
The coach of the Super Falcons of Nigeria, Randy Waldrum also visited the stadium last week and requested the Nigeria Football Federation(NFF) to move all the home games of the team to the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja.