Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has revealed that the Federal Capital Territory agency in charge of the environment, the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), has tabled a bill of N81 million (about $215,000) as the one-time cost of cleaning and cutting the grass that has overgrown the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
He said paying such bill will be outrageous as it is far beyond what the Sports Ministry could afford amid other priorities given its annual budget that is slightly over N2.7bn (about $7.1m).
Dare made this disclosure recently while speaking during the one-day seminar organised by the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) FCT Chapter.
The allegation was made in relation to the maintenance of Package B of the National Stadium, which houses facilities like the indoor basketball court, swimming pool, NFF secretariat, volleyball courts, tennis courts, squash courts, athletes’ hostels, among others, but which ironically have become habitat for all manners of reptiles including snakes.
“When we approached AEPB for one-time cleaning of the stadium, they gave us a bill of N81 million.
“If I tell Nigerians that I have N81 million and I use that money to rid the National Stadium of bush rats, instead of using that money to bring back the High-Performance Centre, there would be an outcry. It is an opportunity cost, the fund is just not available,’’ Dare said.
He noted there are plans for a facility manager at the National Stadium as well as to have a section where the public can pay fees for outdoor walk in a one kilometre stretch featuring 14 sports legends. There is also plans for a water park.
“It is already designed, but just waiting for the private sector. That can generate for us a revenue in the region of N150 millon to N200 million every year in the private hand. There is a decision in that direction,” concludes the minister.