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Sunday Dare claims an ‘excess of 21 billion naira’ is needed to save the neglected Surulere national stadium

The government of General Yakubu Gowon launched the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos, in 1972

A staggering billion naira, according to Sunday Dare, minister of youth and sports, is required to restore the Surulere National Stadium in Lagos.

The 1972 commission, dubbed “the new Mecca of Sports,” has devolved into an unsanitary, foul-smelling, abandoned stadium that hosts social and religious meetings, as well as street kids, squatters, hawkers, and a variety of other people.

As reported by, the 56-year-old minister estimates that the National Stadium in Lagos would need a whopping N21 billion in renovations before it can be used as-is.

Recall that the arena served as the venue for the 1973 African Games, when Nigeria won the gold medal for the first time. The 1980 African Cup of Nations was held there, and the Green Eagles, who were subsequently ruling the continent for the first time.

After hosting part of the 1999 FIFA U-20 World Cup games, the African Cup of Nations in 2000, which Ghana and Nigeria co-hosted, and a game in 2004, the venue ceased to be in use for over two decades.

Following a recent report on the stadium’s abandonment, Dare briefed his followers on Twitter on Friday on the renovations taking place there and described the condition of the building when he first began his work there.

He wrote: “The National Stadium Surulere, Lagos: Just the Facts. Not Fallacies,

“Upon assumption of office in 2019, I met the National Stadium in a completely run down state. Left to rot for almost 17 plus years. No renovations (or) upgrades. Illegal occupants had taken over. The Illegal occupants had distorted the original plan. We immediately set down to work at the ministry. First,the task force removed all illegal occupants and locked out miscreants. Next we sought funding from private partners as budget allocation was insufficient.

“Old, damaged and clogged up water drainage system gutted out and new ones installed. Second phase of the tartan tracks installed; awaiting the final phase, followed by lanes marking. One digital score board as originally fitted into stadium has been fully installed.”

Dare also shared images of the stadium’s condition and the ministry’s development on his social media pages. He also said that it would cost roughly $45 million to renovate the stadium after it fell into ruin.

“This is what we met and we started work on the main bowl. Our target was to fix three of the 15 critical aspects of the Surulere stadium. The pitch, scoreboard and tartan tracks. We faced delays, but we never stopped. 80 per cent of these three works have been completed.

“What is needed to fix the National Stadium Surulere after 17 plus years of neglect is in excess of 21 billion naira, about 45 million dollars, of which we have just about 500m naira from private and government funding. There is a limit to what can be fixed,” he added.

The CAF team visited various fresh venues to evaluate them as part of their joint proposal with the Republic of Benin to host the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations competition.

The formerly used and respected colourful arena would have been best recommended as one of the stadiums to check if it was well-maintained, and renovated.

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