•As FG shops for N130m to re-grass Abuja Stadium
Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The planned farewell game for the Super Eagles in Abuja will not hold after all as the federal government has cancelled it.
Reason for the cancellation is due to the poor state of the Abuja National Stadium as the federal government is already shopping for the funds in the region of N130m for the regressing of the pitch.
Minister of Sports and Youths Development, Barr Solomon Dalung who made the disclosure during a media parley in Abuja revealed that the possibility of Super Eagles prosecuting any of her international friendly matches ahead of the Russia 2018 FIFA World is completely ruled out.
He further disclosed that the ministry has however engaged a team of experts ready to give the stadium a face lift with a highbred grass similar to the ones in countries like South Africa, adding that it is only fund that is delaying the take off of the job.
“What we are doing is that we have a young contractor, who noticed that what is happening at the stadium is what they can solve, and she approached the ministry. She brought in experts who discovered that they can handle the challenges.
“They found out the major problem of the stadium is not the grasses. The experts discovered that all the water channels around the training pitch and main bowl have stopped working. All the previous work on re-grassing the pitch suffered because the contractors could not find out that the water channels there have all stopped working, thereby making the pitch not sustainable. What they have done basically is to open up the channels. If you look at the training pitches now, they have opened up all the channels and that one is ongoing.
“For the re-grassing of the pitches, we agreed to have in place what will be sustainable, I asked the experts within the ministry what it could take; the amount they gave was so alarming that we could not handle it at the ministry level because government does not have that kind of money.
“But the experts we contracted gave us a quotation in the neighbourhood of N100, to N130m and the job will be done with high breed grasses. Then we are going to have a sustainable nursery of the grasses, together with equipments for maintenance, which will be part of the deal. So, we allowed her to bring the experts. They have done the analysis and have commenced preliminary work. We are into something that is more or less like direct labour. That is how I look at it because we are involved in the contract,” he said.
Regretting that the stadium may not be ready to host the Super Eagles last friendly match before they depart to Russia, due to the inability of the ministry to secure funding for the regrassing project, Dalung said: “We are determined to do our best and give others the way to follow.
“We are doing the re-grassing because we were told that the Super Eagles said they want to play their last international friendly match in Abuja before they depart for Russia. But I think with the issue of funding, which we have some difficulties with, I doubt if we can meet up with that.”
“The contractor told us that it will take a period of 60 days to complete the re grassing of the pitch. They have mobilized and their foreign partners are on ground, but we have not secured the fund yet, that is a big challenge,” he lamented.