Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports Sunday Dare says he will interface with FIFA President Gianni Infantino later this month to ensure Nigeria gets the hosting rights for the 2020 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup and also undertake a tour of the National Stadium in Lagos State alongside Governor Babajide Sanwoolu as he continues to explore ways of revitalising ailing sporting edifices in the country.
Dare made his plans known when he addressed the media following the Asisat Oshoala inspired Super Falcons 1-0 defeat of Algeria in the second leg of their Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualifier at the Agege Stadium on Tuesday.
Nigeria is in the running to host the age-grade tournament for women next year and in August, played hosts to FIFA inspectors who visited the country to assess the facilities in Lagos, Benin and Uyo being put forward to host the tournament.
With a final decision due in a week’s time when the team present their findings to FIFA, Dare who has been on a tour of national sports facilities since he assumed office said he will do his bit at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich to ensure Nigeria gets the nod to host the tournament.
The Minister expressed confidence that all facilities required for a successful hosting of the tournament including the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna, which had originally been discounted as a potential match venue over safety fears, would be ready in time for the competition.
“Last week I was in Kaduna to look at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium,” the sports minister said.
“The FIFA team came about two weeks ago and we know that on September 12 in Zurich, they will be looking at taking the final decision and I hope to be in Zurich to see the FIFA president [Gianni Infantini] to do some kind of diplomacy.
“Ultimately, Nigeria hopes to host the Under-20 Female World Cup and we have the facilities. We are putting them up to upgrade, we are building them and we are sure that eventually, we will be able to host the Under-20 female World Cup.”
Nigeria’s national sporting edifices have long suffered from neglect and with no maintenance over the years, many have fallen into complete disrepair especially the national stadiums in Abuja and Lagos.
Dare’s predecessor Solomon Dalung carried out a perfunctory rehabilitation of the Abuja stadium for the 19th National Sports Festival and in a bid to restore the National Stadium in Lagos, explored the possibility of reaching a concessionary agreement with the state government which ultimately came to nothing.
Dare said that a central thrust of his mission as minister lies in restoring all national stadiums.
He revealed that he will be touring the National Stadium in Lagos alongside the State Governor Babajide Sanwoolu at the weekend following which they will explore the best possible avenue for rehabilitating the national edifice irrespective of funding constraints.
Dare said reviving the concessionary agreement with the Lagos State Government and entering into a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) agreement for refurbishing and administering the stadium are all options that will be considered.
“I said that at one of the cardinal focus will be in bringing back our stadia particularly [the MKO Abiola Stadium] Abuja, Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna, the Obafemi Awolowo formerly Liberty Stadium Ibadan, and especially, the National Stadium Lagos.
“We are going to make sure that we are going to develop a business model around it, we’ll look at concession or public-private partnership (PPP).
“Next weekend, I’ll be in Lagos with the Executive Governor of Lagos [and] we will undertake a tour and inspection of the facilities in Lagos and we’ll sit down and see what can be done. Of course, we have the problem of funding, but we will look for private funds to do what we can do.”