In defence of an abandoned project

In defence of an abandoned project

The Akure Township Stadium was established before
the creation of old Ondo State in 1976 by the then administrator of the
old Western region, Oluwole Rotimi, (a retired colonel) to boost
sporting activities in the state. Then, it was just an ordinary
training pitch before it was upgraded to stadium status by successive

For years, due to poor facilities in the stadium,
the state did not host any competition of international magnitude.
Unlike Oyo and Ogun States which had hosted sporting events like the
FIFA Women World Cup and Under-20 World Cup respectively, this could
not be said of Ondo State, even though it is an oil producing state.

In realisation of the need to establish a stadium
of international standard, the immediate past government of Olusegun
Agagu embarked on the construction of a befitting stadium for the state
in 2008. The contract was awarded at a cost of N3.7 billion to CCC
Construction Nigeria Limited. At the flag-off of the project, the
former governor promised the people of the state that the project would
be completed by April, 2010.

The contractor, Mr Agagu stated, was selected from
among 17 other contractors who expressed interest in the project,
adding that government was hopeful that the eventual winner would live
up to its internationally recognised reputation in the handling of the
project. At the function, a cheque of N1.8 billion was handed over to
the contractor as mobilisation fees. The fee represents 50 per cent of
the entire contract.

The main bowl of the stadium, when completed, was
expected to occupy a 15,000 capacity sitting terrace, other ancillary
provisions, which would include car park, training pitch, shopping
arena, medical centre, press gallery, and an ICT centre for easy

The project would also have tartan tracks of 10
lanes, flood lights, electronic score board, a befitting state box
(including VIP extensions), modern office accommodation, and a host of
ancillary facilities.

Below international standard

But five months after the contract was awarded,
there was a change of government. The law court judgement brought to an
abrupt end the rule of Mr Agagu in the state. The contractor had
already begun work on the site before the change of power.

Therefore, the contract was inherited by the new
administration of Olusegun Mimiko, which introduced additional changes
because of the capacity of the people the stadium could accommodate
during international sporting event. However, the contract has since
been abandoned, despite the fact that work had started on the site.

Explaining the rationale behind the termination of
the contract, the state commissioner for information, Ranti Akerele,
said the stadium was not well designed to meet international standard.

According to him, it was wrong for the Agagu-led government to propose a stadium of 15,000 capacity at this jet age.

“When people are planning big stadium that will
accommodate 40,000 people at a time, the then Mr. Agagu government
proposed a 15,000 seater capacity.

“The idea is not only crude but not fashionable.
Our government has begun the repair of the old stadium to make it more
attractive and befitting,” Mr Akerele said.

But John Ola Mafo, the commissioner who was in
charge of the sports ministry when the contract was awarded, described
Mr Akerele’s excuse as flimsy.

Mr Mafo, who had earlier handled the information
ministry under Mr Agagu, explained that the Mimiko-led government had
no good reason to stop the project when the previous administration had
paid 50 per cent mobilisation to the contractor handling the project.

“The excuse being given by the Mr Mimiko is not
genuine. Mr Agagu, while flagging off the project, said the contract
would be completed in 2010 after paying the mobilisation fees. It is
laughable that after the exit of Mr Agagu the project has been

“All over the world, stadium is upgraded at any
given point, so why is Mimiko’s government complaining? The stadium
project is just one of the few projects embarked upon by the
administration of former governor Agagu that have been abandoned by Mr
Mimiko,” Mr Mafo further said.

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