Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has declared there will be no place at the renovated National Stadium in Surulere for shop owners, vendors and proprietors of joints who were ejected and whose structures were demolished in the course of renovating the stadium.
Dare made the declaration while responding to questions on the sidelines of an event to unveil the logo and ambassadors of the National Principals’ Cup in Lagos on Monday.
The sports ministry, three weeks ago, embarked on a drive to restore the Stadium which was constructed in 1972 to its original blueprint.
The exercise which will last for eight weeks has seen the demolition of several structures deemed illegal and not part of the original design.
Popular watering holes and relaxation spots Ojez and Old School bars have already been reduced to dust as have structures underneath the ramps, around the swimming pool, car park and the fence adjoining the entrance gate.
Also erased are the shops that lined the bowel of main bowl of the stadium as well as the drinking spot beside the indoor basketball hall, restaurants around the table tennis hall, and the eating joint located close to the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA).
The demolitions have been met with plenty criticism with many dismayed at the ruthlessness of the exercise which they feel has been carried out with scant regard for the welfare of the affected persons whose sources of livelihood have been been decimated and erased.
Dare, is, however unmoved declaring that demolitions are justified because the structures were constructed illegally in the first place.
The minister reinstated the government’s resolve to ensure fidelity to the original design of the edifice which include provision of ancillary services like malls and eateries but maintained that all the ejected persons and structures “not related to sports development” will not be returning.
Dare revealed the ministry’s plan to successfully concession the stadium hinges on providing the eventual overseers of the complex “unencumbered” access to the edifice.
“The stadium, you look at the definition of a stadium. It’s a sporting facility, there are ancillary services that can come in, sporting shops, drinks and so on,” Dare said.
“Our plan is to return that stadium to what it used to be, its original blueprint. We have shown purpose, anything that has been there that is not related to sport development will go away, they will not return.
“Also, we are about concessioning the National Stadium Surulere and for us to concession, the concessioneer must have access to the place unencumbered.
“So they will not return. We’re sorry that they have to be taken off, but you cannot build illegality upon illegality.
“In the first place they were there illegally. That is not a market place, it is not a shopping mall. It is a sports arena, multipurpose and it will serve that purpose.”