As Nigerians rejoice with the Paralympians over their golden performance at the London 2012 Games, those familiar with the National Stadium in Abuja weep over the sorry situation of the world class venue that cost the country nearly N60bn to construct. It is tough to link these successful athletes with a stadium so overtaken by weeds.
The total neglect of the Abuja Stadium is one of the reasons that the national football teams can no longer play at that venue but instead at different cities around the country. Apart from hosting several matches of the Super Eagles, the stadium was the major centre for the 2003 All-Africa games. The 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup was also held there but in less than three years, the same pitch and its surroundings have become a symbol of national embarrassment.
An inspection carried out on the entire complex showed that most of the offices have been locked up as visitors have dwindled due to the state of the venue located close to Abuja City Gate. Some of the very few activities that have kept the complex open are the several camping programmes the various national teams have held at the training pitch this year for international engagements.
Last week, President Goodluck Jonathan appointed an inter-ministerial committee to look into the many problems affecting the venue and finding a way to totally rework the poorly managed venue. It was also learnt that an agreement had been worked out with a construction firm to re-grass the main pitch. But until the basic clearing of weeds is carried out at the venue, it will surely be a shame and waste of resources for a country with a poor economy and citizen who are barely able to meet their basic needs.