By Lekan Sowande
The Nigerian government has formally transferred custody and management of the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna, to the Kaduna State government.
This was in line with the implementation of the National Sports Industry Policy (NSIP), which focuses on subnational governments and private sector involvement in the development of sports in Nigeria.
The Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, together with the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, who signed the Memorandum of Understanding (Mou) on behalf of the Federal Government and the Government of Kaduna State reiterated the commitment of President Muhammad Buhari. administration to sports development in Nigeria.
According to the Minister, “the signing of the MoU means the long-overdue official transfer of the stadium,” adding that it follows the previous traditions of transferring Tafawa Balewa Stadium to the Bauchi State Government and Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium to Enugu State.
Dare expressed his confidence that the Kaduna State Government would effectively develop and manage the national infrastructure building for the benefit of the 19 northern states and Nigeria, stressing that sports infrastructure is the backbone of sports development.
He urged other state governors to emulate the Kaduna state government, which spent more than N300 million to revive the previously derelict stadium and make it accessible for sporting activities.
Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai expressed his gratitude to President Buhari and Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development Minister Sunday Dare for giving the state the opportunity to own and control the Ahmadu Bello Stadium bequeathed to the northern states. by the late Premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello, who incidentally was an active sportsman.
He further said that some of his peers, who grew up in Kaduna, see the stadium as an icon of tourist attraction and income generation.
According to the Governor,we have big plans for the stadium, we intend to modernize it to a world standard building suitable for everyone to watch football and other sporting events.” he said.
The Governor also promised to revive the three Olympic-standard swimming pools and to work with the private sector to ensure that all other incomplete facilities within the stadium are fully completed and operational.
The highlight of the MoU signing occasion was a novelty football match between Team Dare – ‘Bonanza’ (led by the Minister of Sports) and Team El-Rufai – ‘Francis Lee’ (led by the Governor) which ended 2-1 in favor. on the Governor’s side. The match was played at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium and was followed by a significant number of people.