The Federal Government on Friday officially handed over the famous Ahmadu Bello Stadium (ABS) to the 19 Northern States with the Kaduna State government as custodian.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed and delivered on behalf of the Federal Government by the Minister for Sports and Youth Development, Chief Sunday Dare, while the Kaduna State government signed on behalf of the 19 Northern States with the Senator representing Kaduna. Central senatorial district and All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate for governor, Uba Sani, as a witness.
The signing of the MoU took place at Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House, Kaduna.
This was followed by a novelty match in the ABS main bowl where Governor Nasir el-Rufai captained the State government team and scored two goals while the Sports Minister scored the only goal for his team, of which he also he was captain.
Speaking shortly after the fun-filled novelty match, Governor el-Rufai in an interview, described how he felt by saying: “I feel terrible because, at almost 63 years old, I can’t play like I used to play. I was a right winger running very fast in my teens and early 20s, a lot has come since then, I don’t feel great but it’s a great experience and happy that people were entertained.
“Today is a day of great celebration, this stadium was built by our Premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello, who was an active sportsman and those of us who grew up in this town saw it.
“So for the Federal Government to kindly return it to us, the original owners – the 19 Northern States and FCT with Kaduna State as custodian, I think it is a day of celebration in the history of the sport.
“We have big ambitions for the stadium, we intend to modernize it, cover every part of it, get some VIP parts that would have air conditioning so that the sun comes in, the rain comes in, everyone enjoys watching the sporting events here and the abandoned swimming pool. swimming pool project that has not been finished, we would have them finished and all the other installations.
“We will look for it with the private sector. I signed the agreement on behalf of the Kaduna state government even though I have 121 days left but the person who witnessed this agreement was Senator Uba Sani by the grace of God he would be the next governor of Kaduna state So you totally agree. in this and what we have planned for the Ahmadu Bello Stadium will be fulfilled.
“This is the stadium with the best view in the world because it is the only stadium in the middle of North and South Kaduna with a view of the Kaduna River. The only stadium with such a beautiful view and we intend to make the most of it, try to involve the private sector and we intend to bring sporting events every week, and combine Murtala Square Stadium, Rancher’s Bees and Ahmadu Bello Stadium , which are rebuilding and expanding, I believe that Kaduna would be the hub of sports in Northern Nigeria and we are grateful to the Federal Government for this gesture which is fully compliant with the National Sports Policy which emphasizes infrastructure, investment and incentives.” .
Also speaking, the Sports Minister said: “this is long overdue, Kaduna has contributed to sporting development and we are happy to bring it to a close. We are sure that the Kaduna State Government will develop this place.
“In 2019, when I became a minister, I focus on infrastructure, the only governor who agreed to spend money on stadium renovation in a state was Governor El-Rufai, he spent around N300 million that time and that is why this place has become usable, it fits into our National Sports Policy, this stadium is important, we have to give it the space it deserves”.