On September a photo documentary was published on the mismanagement and lack of maintenance of the National Stadium, Abuja, built at the cost of over N54 billion during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003.
The documentary, first published on whistle blowing website Saharareporters and later, severally republished by leading Nigeria newspapers and blogs showed facilities in the stadium at various stages of degeneration with the main arena nearly turned into a forest.
A week after the publication of the documentary which, as was gathered was a source of serious embarrassment to government, the Ministry of Sports headed by Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi reacted by initiating a flurry of activities directed at rehabilitation of the Stadium.
To signify the beginning of rehabilitation work on the Stadium a notice appeared at the gate in January which reads: “Rehabilitation of the Football pitch National Stadium, Abuja. The Presidency, National Sports Commission. Contractor: Julius Berger” indicating that the contract for the restoration of the facilities was awarded to the German construction company which also originally constructed the whole edifice. But at what cost is the question no one seemed to know or want to answer. On 18 February, for instance, sms was sent to the Special Assistant to Minister of Sports on Media, Julius Ogunro, asking him to help us find out the cost of the rehabilitation contract.
The SA did not answer the text or call back. On Tuesday 19th, a call was made to him, which he picked, but he asked the reporter to call him back later in the day as he was on his way to a meeting. But he didn’t take his call when the call was eventually made to him later in the day. On Wednesday 20th, when the reporter called him again, though he picked the call, he asked for the questions again. To which the reporter replied: ‘Please i want to know the cost of the rehabilitation of the National Stadium’. His reply was: ‘I don’t know the cost, but I know is not much, Berger just agree to do it because it was built by them and secondly, work has commenced there.’
And in our findings, officers of Bureau of Public Procurement in Abuja, also said they are not aware of the cost of the project. Now that the BPP and the Ministry of Sports claim not to know the cost of rehabilitation of the Stadium, who will tell Nigerians ?
Femi Ipaye an acclaimed photo journalist visited the stadium on February 25 and 1st of March took these photos.