From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
In the past two years Oyo State, a fresh breathe of life has been given to a number of the facilities in various sectors. They have potential to lift people out of poverty and reduce security threats caused by joblessness.
One such area is the sports sector. The revamping of the moribund sports facilities began with the N5.5billion flag-off of the remodeling of Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Adamasingba, Ibadan, by Governor Seyi Makinde, in August 2020. That was 44 years after the development plan began on the project, and 32 years after the complex was officially opened.
Makinde said then: “This is another step in the right direction, positioning Oyo State to attract investments… Oyo State has had a rich sporting history. Back in 1963, the first World Boxing title fight in Africa was held here in Oyo State.
“We were able to host that fight and benefit from all the tourism revenue because we had the facilities to do so. And so, we are remodeling this sports complex now, so that we can reap the benefits in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). If there was a call for cities to host a national sporting event today, can Oyo State boast of having the facilities?”
“The total contract sum for the remodelling of the Lekan Salami Sports Complex is 5,580,001,151:62k. This project will be funded using the Alternative Project Funding Approach (APFA).”
Representative of the contractor, Mr. Olarenwaju Adeleke, said stadium was planned to be a place of discovery and nursing of talents. He disclosed that the capacity put at 8,000 would be increased by 25 per cent.
One year after
One year after the flag-off, this reporter was given opportunity to inspect. The Astro turf on the main bowl has been replaced with natural turf. The natural turf pitch is also complemented with blue perimeter athletic artificial tracks. A giant electronic scoreboard has been installed. Work also ongoing on the second electronic scoreboard.
New goal posts have been erected with four new floodlights. The sitting arrangement has also been redesigned. The VIP section carved out with glass demarcation and would be air-conditioned. New plastic seats also fixed.
The roofs on the stands for spectators were changed and the stadium equipped with a studio. The stadium now has four world-class changing rooms with capacity for 25 players and wet areas for bathing with capacity for 11 players at a time.
The facilities in the stadium also include rooms for referees and match officials, clinic and emergency exit. Hospitality suites for special spectators were also provided. Each suite can accommodate 10 persons and for networking. They also have dedicated car parks and entrances.
Smart Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras were also sighted. Head, Electrical Electronic Department, Benjamen Tobrise, said the studio is one of the requirements from FIFA to accredit the stadium. The studio has separate access road. From the studio, the five-kilometer radius of the stadium can be monitored. Visiting teams could be monitored in the studio, right from the Ibadan airport. Works are also ongoing on a new training pitch, a multipurpose hall for basketball, volleyball and handball, a new squash hall and a 50 by 30-metre hall with a court for gymnastics, boxing, judo, and kickboxing that would help the diversification into other sporting activities.
The studio is equipped with DMX control equipment for the floodlights. The video and image transmitting set machine will help media houses with their Outside Broadcasting Vans.
When completed, the stadium can be linked to at least four other standard stadia within Oyo State. Live football matches in Ogbomoso Township Stadium can be watched in Ibadan and vice versa.
Live transmission of matches can also be done through linkage with some other stadia in Nigeria, based on approval from FIFA. The studio also has VAR section, which will house referees and commentators during matches. Any media house in Nigeria can connect with the stadium.
Tobrise said: “We have our power house. We have two 500KVA generating sets and they have been synchronised to 1,000KVA to be able to carry the load. If there is an event, we can be on the two 500KVA and synchronise them to 1,000KVA to be able to carry the load.”
NFF boss comes calling
President, Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, also inspected the stadium. He told Makinde: “Now, the next thing is to get the necessary accreditation and endorsements from Confederation of African Football (CAF) and FIFA, which we are going to work on, once they lay the tracks and complete other finishing touches. I want Oyo State to be part of the FIFA Connect Programme; the programme means where you identify players, you connect them to a FIFA programme.”
Makinde was optimistic that his administration would benefit from the $600billion available in the worldwide sports sector by investing massively in sports development. He said government was ready to work with the soccer governing body to develop Oyo State football, “using sports as a tool to address youth restiveness, crime in the state and to empower them with a view to developing economy in the state.”
Chairman, Oyo State Sports Council, Gbenga Adewusi, said: “We are very satisfied with the speed and quality of the work, the standard of the job is excellent.” On the new security arrangements: “I am sure, they would provide everything for us. We know when the project is completed we will need more security operatives around here.
“It will not just be local in-house security we used to have. This is why we are building new security office around here, which will house Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Department of State Security (DSS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Amotekun Corps and others.”
General Manager, Oyo State Sports Council, Gboyega Makinde, said: “The contractor will maintain this project for at least two years, before finally handing it over. The sports council will take over management of the facilities from then. I must say that without these sport facilities, we were still able to occupy the sixth position at the last national sports festival, and for the first time in the history of Oyo State, we won so many medals, especially the gold medals.
“We are expecting big league matches to be played here. With the standard of this stadium Oyo State is qualify to host national sport festival. We also have adjoining sports facilities at Olubadan Stadium, University of Ibadan, The Polytechnic Ibadan, IITA and many institutions that are surrounding us.”