Centenary celebrations ‘kill’ Abuja Stadium pitch



—   Another re-grassing to gulp N.1bn

A few months after the Federal Government spent close to N57m to re-grass Abuja National Stadium pitch and another N40m on rehabilitation of the edifice that generated a lot of controversies, there are indications that a fresh renovation regime will gulp yet another huge amount to enable it undergo a re-grassing exercise again.
Blueprint Sport can authoritatively report that the pitch is already in a terrible condition following setting up equipment for the forthcoming centenary celebrations with several top musicians lined up to perform at the ceremony.
When our correspondent visited the stadium yesterday, it was discovered that Julius Berger, the construction company that earlier handled the re-grassing project, were re-engaged and is currently setting up high rising podium on the pitch that is struggling to hold down the grass.
It was gathered that the German outfit may request for about N.1bn to re-grass the pitch after the celebration.
Already, the ongoing work forced the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to relocate a friendly match decided last Sunday between Nigeria’s U-17 team and their Ghana counterparts from the main bowl to an artificial turf at the package B of the stadium.
However, it was observed that the metal podium being constructed to cover the entire grass on the pitch have already reached an advanced stage in readiness to the activities slated to mark 100 years of Nigeria’s existence.
Though Julius Berger, the company which earlier handled the re-grassing project was said to have entered an agreement with National Sports Commission (NSC) to maintain the pitch over a period of time, the grasse on the pitch have already begun to whither in less than six months.
It would be recalled that the House of Representatives through its House Committee on Sports on inspection tour had last year raised an alarm over the shoddy work done on the pitch of the nation’s 60,000-capacity stadium with a vow to investigate how monies appropriated were spent but it is yet to be seen how far they have gone in unraveling the re-grassing mystery.
The general feeling among sports observers in Abuja is that the condition of the stadium underscores the time–honoured saying that when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.

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