Investigation – Rust, rot and waste: a peek into Ibadan’s waning infrastructure II

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By: Oredola Ibrahim and Habeeb Kolade

This is one of a four-part series where we have profiled a number of structures in Ibadan that has suffered from neglect, mismanagement or underutilization. All these structures, if harnessed properly can improve the internally generated revenue of the state government. But beyond revenue, this series shows how poor maintenance culture has ridden the state and largely the country of its much desired progress. The first part was a focused report on Agbowo Shopping Complex, in case you missed it, you can read it up here – Investigation – Rust, rot and waste: a peek into Ibadan’s waning infrastructure I: AGBOWO SHOPPING COMPLEX: A HACKNEYED POLITICAL DISPLAY.

All pictures were taken by Rufai Sodiq(CDQ)

  • LEKAN SALAMI STADIUM: A HALF COMPLETE DREAM 

[Investigation]–Perching at a corner of Ibadan’s commercial hub is Lekan Salami Stadium, still home to the once illustrious Shooting Stars Sports Club. Unlike the football club, which is struggling to return to its glamour days, the stadium never really reached its peak and continues to wallow in broken relationships with state governments.

Officially named the Adamasingba Sports Complex, the stadium was rechristened after the football club’s patron, Lekan Salami, an astute businessperson and philanthropist who played a major role in the rise of Shooting Stars to the summit of African Football.

The main bowl of the stadium can sit about 18,000 people.  However, take away the main bowl and there you have sports structures fading into nothingness. Rather than be a centre sprawling with sport lovers, drinkers have taken advantage of the sprouting beer parlours that are now resident in the stands of some of the sport’s facilities. At some corners, drug peddlers have also found a home.

A stadium can be many things to many people. Several times, it is where home-grown talents are discovered, nurtured and given their first opportunities. Muda Lawal started from here; a young mechanic rose through the ranks to become one of Nigeria’s sporting greats. He won the biggest African titles for both club and country.

As the years wore on, less and less came out of that stadium. Shooting Stars have gone almost 20 years without a title, but more the rest of the stadium continues to die an early death.

The Lekan Salami Stadium, apart from being the home ground of the Shooting Stars Sports Club campaigning in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), it also has a place in history. The venue has played host to the Super Eagles, U-20 Eagles, Olympics men football teams and the Super Falcons in international engagements.

Forty years of a work in progress…

The stadium as a project was started in 1977 by Major-General David Jemibewon then lieutenant-colonel, who served as military governor of the now defunct Western State (August 1975 – March 1976) during the military regime of General Murtala Muhammed, and later as governor of Oyo State after it had been created from part of the old Western State (March 1976 -July 1978) during the military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1977.

The project, then, was divided into two phases because of its complex nature in construction and financing. The first phase was planned to include the construction of a standard main bowl, a theatre, squash and tennis courts, a gymnasium, basketball courts, a swimming pool and a shopping centre and the second phase of the construction was planned to include the fixing of floodlight, electronic scoreboard, an auxiliary viewing centre, painting of the stadium, dressing rooms for sports men, media chalet renovation and other minor constructions as well as finishing touches.

Then in 1977, 26 million naira was budgeted for the first phase of the construction being that the first phase contained the major and bulky parts of the project. While 17 million naira was set aside for the implementation of the second phase of the plan, which brings the whole budget to 43 million naira.

In 1988, 11 years after the project was started, it was inaugurated by the now late Augustus Aikhomu, then a vice admiral and Chief of General Staff under the administration of Colonel Adetunji Idowu Ishola Olurin, who was then the military governor of Oyo State. The project, which was largely in progress, was inaugurated, though with plans that the construction will be completed.

Since 1977, to 1988 to when it was inaugurated, to May 2017 when we visited the complex, it is both shocking, sad and unfortunate to discover that it is nearly forty years and the stadium is still not just a work in progress, but also an abandoned one, wasting and now rotting away!

Beer parlours, broken dreams, broken panes and a pool sieged by weeds

Adamasingba is a stadium with broken dreams that has found solace in alcohol. That is why the brightest spots in the complex are beer parlours. On our visitation, we counted not fewer than 40 flourishing beer parlours in the stadium complex. This clearly shows us the priority and interest of the people funding such and the administrators who created the atmosphere. The stadium is filled with the stench of reckless abandon, underutilization, mismanagement and its slavery to nine consecutive visionless governments.

Starting from the main bowl of the stadium, the green pitch is a good sight. But that is where the decency in the stadium ends. The tracks have lost their sanity and appear like a child ravaged by small pox. Most of the walls are still unpainted and the painted ones are already wearing off. The blue and red stadium seats are fading into white and waters have claimed their space as permanent spectators. The toilets have surrendered to uncultured usage and poor management and are littered by broken ladders, stagnant water and several cans of drinks. The white walls had embraced some brownness and the gates of the stadium have given in to rust. Once, the stadium was declared unfit to host Nigerian Premier League matches and Shooting Stars had to find another stadium. There is little beauty to behold in this complex.

The swimming pool is worse. Sieged by weed, even on its tiled floors, the seat-less stands overlook a dead pool. A third of the pool is filled with dirty water, perhaps remnants of rainfall. The blue paddings of the pool’s inside are faulted with cracks. A numbers of broken tiles are residual in the pool and are joined in the party by litters from water bottles, cans, and a number of pipes. The walls are unpainted and have dark patches from dead algae. The place is deserted.

The basketball and tennis courts are not any less different. The spectator stands are also without any seats. Some parts of the roof have been blown off. Many of the bulb-holders are without bulbs. Several glass panes of the stair guides are broken. And the spectator stand for the squash court has been converted to a “cool spot” — a euphemism for a beer parlour. Old and broken vehicles with different brandings of “Shooting Stars” and “Sports Ministry” littered the place, indiscriminate refuse dumps and more overgrown grasses litter the larger landscape. The place is an eyesore.

The dressing rooms are not in a better state — dirty, deserted and desolated. The theatre gallery is abandoned and the seats are fast disappearing under a determined growth of grasses and weeds. Speaking with the man in charge of the gallery, we asked to know what function it now serves and he replied, “Churches often rent the place for revivals and crusades and if you want to do wedding or any other social gathering, you can also come here”. The complex for indoor games, without much effort at discerning, is clearly not alive.

And on one of the entrances to the main bowl, we found a warning posted to an old iron door, “Smoking of Indian hemp, marijuana, cannabis and cigarette are highly prohibited within the main bowl and stadium premises Pls. Be Warned”. This is clearly a reaction to the reports that some people have turned the main bowl to a smoking centre in the night and a place where other atrocious activities are carried out. This is inevitable in the face of poor and irresponsible management.

Political renovations, ‘energisation’ and other abandoned projects

Some government officials and politicians have resorted to minor fixes, like the basketball backboard and basket supplied by a certain member of the house of assembly. He imprinted his name on his donation, which reads “DONATED BY HON ANTHONY ABIODUN DADA”. When Colonel Ahmed A. Usman built the Lekan Salami statue, he also ended up declaring to the world in capital letters that his administrations constructed the statue. And another building meant for indoor games was probably just renovated by the Governor Lam Adesina and he ended up defacing it with the following inscription “THE COMMISSIONING OF THE ENERGISATION OF LEKAN SALAMI SPORTS COMPLEX WAS PERFORMED BY HIS EXCELLENCY ALHAJI (DR) LAM ONAOLAPO ADESINA, THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF OYO STATE ON THURSDAY 8TH MAY, 2003”, just one building.  All these scenarios and more have reduced what should be a befitting sports complex to a centre for political constructions.

Besides the ‘energised’ building is a thick bush that should not reasonably be within the stadium and within that bush is a building that would have served as hostel facilities for sportsmen if it was not abandoned. Both the thick bush and the abandoned building are clearly in a race and the little construction irons barely visible from the building would tell any onlooker that it is just a matter of time before the bush wins the race. It is quite incomprehensible to imagine that the administrators will leave the place in such a distasteful state even when they know that it is the first place you see as soon as you enter the stadium through one of the main gates. And to complete the rite are bricks meant for the construction, giving in to the pressure from the rain and sun and probably older in age than the authors of this piece.

A disservice to the beautiful memories of Chief Lekan Salami

To know that the current mess put together and referred to as a stadium is named after Lekan Salami is the greatest disservice anyone can do to the memory of such a good man who almost single-handedly kept the passion for football alive in state for the most part of the sixities through the seventies.

 

Salami had been a fan of many amateur local football clubs since 1937 when the first amateur team in Ibadan, Hercules club was founded. In the 1950s, he was a member of the Ibadan District Football Association, an organization that managed Ibadan Lions football club. During his time with the group, he was a team manager of the lions and later president of the association. His appointment to the Western Nigeria Sports Council led to his resignation from the association due to potential conflict of interest. But while in the association, he joined a group of young members such as J.O. Obi and supported remuneration for football players during a time football in the city was still at an amateur stage and players had part-time work and sometimes bought their own equipment. He led a revolution that paved way for professionals to thrive in the game.

In 1963, when he was appointed an executive director with Western Nigeria Development Corporation (WNDC), he helped launch the Ibadan-based WNDC Sports club later known as WNDC Shooting Stars, Industrial Investment and Credit Corporation (IICC) Shooting Stars and 3SC. The tales of how he heavily funded the club and the passion with which he promoted the game still lingers to this moment. His relationship with the club earned him the title of life patron of the shooting stars.

To re-echo Chief Lekan Salami’s contribution to the sport culture of Oyo state is the tribute paid to him in an inscription below the statue erected in his memory at the front of the main bowl: “Dedication: Alhaji (Chief) Olalekan Sanusi Salami 1928 to 1988. The Asiwaju Olubadan of Ibadanland was a great sports lover, enthusiast and philantropist. The leading Oyo state soccer team 3sc (formerly IICC) enjoyed tremendous financial and moral support from this great football lover. Hence, this sports complex was named after him and this statue dedicated to his honour and memory. An Everlasting salute to an illustrious son of Oyo state, Nigeria and the whole of Africa”.

But just as the club which he passionately supported with his wealth is no longer what it used to be, the Stadium which was named after him is fast becoming a shadow of a stadium it had never been.

Ten governments and nothing

25 years ago, when Chief of General Staff, the late Vice Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, first inaugurated the sports complex, it was half-complete. According to a report by Tribune Nigeria, 26 million naira had been spent out of the 43-million-naira budget. The state government through a 30 million naira revenue bond on stock exchange had financed the project. At the inauguration, the stadium had a standard football pitch, a swimming pool, a gymnasium, squash and tennis courts and a shopping centre.

The project, started in 1977 by Major-General David Jemibewon, military governor of the now defunct Western State, has had very little progress since its inauguration. Nine governments have since ruled over the state and the tenth one, which is the current administration, has done little or nothing to salvage the deterioration experienced by the stadium.

Revenue

One great motivator of investment is revenue. Perhaps a big reason the government does not pay full attention to places like this is that they are high maintenance but generate little monetary returns. It is easy for stadiums to become that. For example, stadiums in many host cities of the Olympics usually begin to degenerate after the Olympics as they gradually give in to disuse. Governments of these countries, who mostly have no post Olympics plan for their stadiums, begin to complain about the high cost of maintaining such facilities. When no good strategy is laid out on how to use the stadium to generate revenue, it becomes a clinging problem, which governments simply just cut out the costs for the maintenance of the stadium.

Adamasingba Stadium has never been used for Olympics nor has Nigeria hosted the Olympics before. But it is suffering from the same fate. Oyo State Government has, over the past years, cried out about the need to increase internally generated revenue. If Adamasingba has presented itself as a viable goldmine, perhaps it would have turned the attention of the government its way. What can Adamasingba be?

A stadium can be a school, for sports. With all the facility, evening school for sports is one way to help people get better through sports. Students will need to pay for sessions with professional coaches. The wide range of facilities in a stadium means the curriculum will accommodate more sports. Trainings can be spread across the week to allow students who also go to school earlier in the day have some days off.

With the rise in the fitness culture, stadiums can host different fitness trainings across different sports. From endurance training in long races to swimming, these kind of fitness activities can keep the stadium in good use. When such activities are conducted and managed properly, the stadium’s revenue will increase.

In addition to this, the stadium can then host organizations that have such products as may be useful to the sport enthusiasts. This improves the income stream of the stadium. Competitions may also be organized periodically. This may not be elaborate competitions that require too much planning. Simple contests that attract average attendance then a big event would be enough. The stadium may also introduce a year round competition that ensures  people turn out all year round to participate in stadium activities.

One new trend that stadium can glean from is to have viewing centres for non-local sporting events e.g the Champions League, World Cup and other sporting events that attract a lot of viewership. With its sheer size and the promise of creating larger sporting communities, the stadium can be a go-to area to enjoy both local and international sporting activities.

A stadium can be used for many things. The management just needs to be creative in planning and meticulous in implementation.

Developmental works on the swimming pool

The only significant attempt registered by any of the previous governments was made by Governor Alao Akala and that was solely on the swimming pool complex. However, his government did not complete paying for the renovation/construction works it had kick-started.  This meant very little progress was registered towards resuscitating the complex’s facilities.

In 2017, the Ajimobi led government revoked the contract with a private contractor who was meant to work on the swimming pool. The government stated that it will take full control of the development of that swimming pool after assessing the work done so far. Instead of paying up the money owed to the former contractor to get the job done, the current government revoked what was left of the contract.

Moving forward

Lekan Salami Sports Complex can be a haven where the state’s sport stars, like Muda Lawal are raised. The sports complex is the only state owned full sports facility. It is saddening that state athletes have to train at University of Ibadan and the Federal Government owned Obafemi Awolowo Stadium while the state’s sport complex continue to suffer from abandon.

Stadiums always pose a question of profitability. Several cities across the world actually face the problem of maintaining stadiums and can hardly reconcile them to boost economic activities. Americans, at the boom of the sports industry less than a decade ago, started to examine the economic benefit of building stadiums and many stadiums were found to actually return much lower contributions to the economy that would have been envisaged. However, several stadiums have gone against this trend and returned hundreds of millions of dollars every year. These stadiums, many of which host great football teams, have continued to expand to accommodate more people and boost their revenue even more.

Why should Lekan Salami be fully developed despite these worries? Lekan Salami Sports Complex represents an important landmark in Oyo State and is only one of the two standard stadiums in the whole of Oyo State. Ibadan is the largest city in West Africa and the third largest metropolitan area, by population in Nigeria. Investment in Lekan Salami stadium if properly managed will have a significant impact in job creation and revenue generation for Oyo State Government. In any case the government cannot bring itself to properly manage the facility, it may enter into public private partnerships where the private organization manages the facility, while the government oversees that management to ensure the stadium fulfil its social and economic goals.

Oyo state has proven to be a sports loving city. The government also recognizes this, but would largely fail in its promise on facilities that actually facilitate sports and wellness and will continue to be poorly managed, underutilized and subject to neglect or complete abandon.

The government must take action now.

This is one of a four-part series where we have profiled a number of structures in Ibadan that has suffered from neglect, mismanagement or underutilization. All these structures, if harnessed properly can improve the internally generated revenue of the state government. But beyond revenue, this series shows how poor maintenance culture has ridden the state and largely the country of its much desired progress. The first part was a focused report on Agbowo Shopping Complex, in case you missed it, you can read it up here Investigation – Rust, rot and waste: a peek into Ibadan’s waning infrastructure I: AGBOWO SHOPPING COMPLEX: A HACKNEYED POLITICAL DISPLAY.

All pictures were taken by Rufai Sodiq(CDQ)




Copyright 2017 The Page. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.thepageng.com as the source.

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