By Gafar Yusuf
I want to believe the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari is not aware that the Ahmadu Bello Stadium (ABS) is about to be handed over to Kaduna State Government. In fact, the people of Kaduna State are of the opinion that the plans to hand over the Ahmadu Bello Stadium is an arrangement between Nigeria’s Sports Minister, Sunday Dare and the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai.
The Federal Government of Nigeria will kill the only existing sports facilities (only FUNCTIONING STADIUM) if they hand over the Ahmadu Bello Stadium to Kaduna State Government as over 1 million youths excluding women and children will be rendered jobless and the rate of crime will increase geometric sequence.
I am sure that President Muhammadu Buhari is unaware of the state of Muritala Muhammed Square in Kaduna. Since it was renovated by the administration of Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai and privatised, no sporting activities have taken place there; sporting associations have been denied access to the facilities. No sporting competition, championship or challenge have taken place at the Muritala Muhammed Square despite the huge resources spent to rehabilitate the infrastructure. In the past, the Muritala Muhammed Square was also used for recreational purposes where families engage in exercises during the weekdays as well as picnics but all are history today.
The Rancher Bees Stadium suffered the same fate in the hands of Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, demolishing the stadium that brought us memories during the 90’s and early 2000’s. He practically rendered the football community homeless for years and now the only place that brings joy to the good people of Kaduna is about to be handed over to El-Rufai again.
When the minister of sports, Sunday Dare said after the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), a novelty match between the Governor and the Minister, organised to motivate young footballers who have chosen to develop the game as a career, I smiled. Kaduna State does not have any club in the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) and the Nigeria National League (NNL); the only time Kaduna State Government supports sports are during the National Youth Games and National Sports Festival (with prayers). The various sporting associations get little or no support from the State Government led by Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai.
Dear Sunday Dare, be rest assured that once you sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to handover ABS to Kaduna State Government, hundreds of thousands of youth will not have access to sporting facilities to train for national and international engagements. Due to the rate of kidnapping in the state, the only safe place to engage in sporting/recreational activities is the Ahmadu Bello Stadium.
The Kaduna State Football League (KSFL) that produces football stars across the world will die a natural death, our annual Inter Local Government Area (LGA) football competition, the football academies will not have access to training pitches; the Athletics Association will not have tracks to train their athletes for subsequent championships, the badminton athletes will not have courts to train; families can’t engage in their regular rituals on weekends. Kaduna State might not have access to watch Nigeria Premier Football League again due to the forthcoming draconic policy that will be put in place by the Governor.
The legacy of the Sardauna of Sokoto, the first and only Former Premier of Northern Nigeria, masterminded Northern Nigeria through the independence of Nigeria in 1960, Sir Ahmadu Bello will be destroyed TOTALLY if this move of handing over the AB Stadium is done.
Let me use the words of one of the Presidential candidates in the forthcoming election, “GO AND VERIFY” from the good people of Kaduna State before making this huge mistake that will not only cost sports lovers in the state but the other 18 Northern States.
I want to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to review his approval for the handing over of Ahmadu Bello Stadium and save the only existing sports facilities.
God bless Kaduna State,
God bless Nigeria.