Pictures: Dangote hands rehabilitated Moshood Abiola stadium pitch, digital score board to FG

The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development on Friday formally received the rehabilitated Moshood Abiola stadium pitch and digital score-boards from the Dangote Industries Group (DIG) after years of neglect.

The revival of the pitch was made possible under the “Adopt-a-pitch” initiative of the incumbent Minister, Sunday Dare.

The representative of the Chairman of DIG, Aliko Dangote, the Executive Director, Stakeholder Management and Corporate Communications of the Group, Alhaji Mansur Ahmed, said the formal hand-over of the rehabilitated pitch was a testimony of the commitment of the company to sports development.

“As we all know, Nigerian players are of international status but until now, we don’t have an international standard facility and our commitment is to work with the Ministry to make sure that this particular facility remains of international standard. We are therefore happy to contribute by this renovation, and by the arrangement to maintain it for the next two years,” Mr. Ahmed added.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Ismaila Abubakar, lauded Dangote group for believing in the vision of the Minister vis-a-vis examplifying a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) that works.

He restated the commitment of the Ministry to ensure that the new facility was put to productive use and properly maintained.

In his submission, the Special Adviser to the President on Sports, a former Nigerian International, Daniel Amokachi, showered encomiums on the minister for his foresight in thinking out of the box to fix the dilapidated pitch.

He charged the Dangote group to consider extending the period of maintenance beyond two years, stating that after expending $1 million to renovate the facility, long-term maintenance was paramount.

Whilst receiving the formal handover documents from the Executive Director, Projects, Aron Nigeria Ltd,  Soji Adeniji – the contractor handling the project, the minister lauded the contractor and the  Dangote group for completing the project in record time, despite constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“By the words of the experts here and those that have toured the facility, we have the latest grass here – Paspalum grass, one of the best, when we talk about football pitches across the world. Something exactly similar to what we have in Qatar, that will be used for the World Cup next year.

“We thank Alhaji Aliko Dangote for opening his doors to us, and accepting to adopt the Moshood Abiola Stadium when we came up with our ‘Adopt-a-Pitch’ proposal. We salute his commitment that culminated in the completion of the project today, inclusive of maintenance for at least two years,” Dare said.

The renovated pitch, aside from the new digital score-boards, has a nursery being cultivated to produce fresh grass to replace withered ones when necessary, and sprinklers to keep the grass lush green all year round.

Only a few months ago, the President of the World Soccer Governing Body, FIFA, Gianni Infantino, while on a visit to the stadium, commended the quality of the new pitch and promised to facilitate the hosting of international matches on it.

The coach of the Super Falcons of Nigeria, Randy Waldrum, also visited the stadium last week and requested the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to move all the home games of the team to the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja.