By Godwin Bamigboye
The Abuja Sports Centre which is popularly known as Old Parade Ground was again in the news recently. For what reason, you may ask?
The facility, particularly the Football pitch was encroached upon and misused for a non football event. Understand me, please. For the sake of emphasis, chairs were arranged on green grass and also excavated to erect stands for cameras and light. Sad development, you will say. We were told that the event was stopped but the damage done to the facility is palpable. In my recent reaction to the misuse, I remember making comments on some challenges in the management of the football pitch. I feel as to insert my comments into this write up. Just read on. "Dr. Charles. Thank you for the palliative measures and action of the Sports Department to this lingering misuse of the Old Parade Ground pitch. I suggest you discuss further with the Director of Sports, Istifanus Luka to further discuss with the Secretary of Social Development Secretariat (equivalence of Commissioner for Sports, FCT) to put a halt to using the surface of the Football Pitch for any kind of event. The pavilions can be used but leave out the pitch.
They should also look at the Football Time Table before fixing other programmes except such event overrides the Football event in the interest of the Nation.
I am making this contribution as a major sports stakeholder in FCT. I know the efforts of the Sports Department (Sports Council) and your limitations also. If the Social Development Secretariat will not do the needful, we may have to embark on a campaign to preserve the Football pitch at Old Parade Ground.
I indeed felt bad when in the last quarter of 2023, Mr Chidi Okonkwo, Chairman, City FC lamented that he and others spent millions of Naira to maintain the Old Parade Ground pitch only to see workers excavating the pitch to erect podiums and stands for cameras and lights for an event. I think there is the need to put a stop to it or at least let it be controlled for the benefit of all users.
This is becoming SERIOUS and EMBARRASSING. I will volunteer to come and see you and Director Luka.
Let the Committee that manages the facility be allowed to do their work and professionally manage the facility. Nobody should use even the office of the Minister to give directive to the committee to do the wrong thing. I believe that H.E., Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, Minister of FCT will not direct anybody to use a football pitch for an event that could be hosted elsewhere.
We wait for your prompt action".
The issue with the Old Parade Ground is traceable to the following reasons:-
1. There is UNDUE INTERFERENCE on the use of the facility;
2. The facility is being overused because of inadequate sports facilities in particular and other facilities;
3. Inadequate maintenance of the facility by the FCTA;
4. Maintenance of the facility is done by the Clubs using the facility.
Finally, it is important for the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to do the needful by allowing the Committee saddled with the responsibility of managing the facility to carry out its assignment effectively and efficiently.