How the Kwara government renovated the stadium’s indoor sports hall with 72 million naira on paper with nothing on the ground to show
It was a sunny Monday afternoon and a practice day for the volleyball players at Kwara State Stadium. Adedayo Oke, the captain of Kwara United Volleyball Club who also serves as assistant volleyball coach in the state, stood in a corner of the stadium’s gigantic indoor sports hall.
Oke was visibly worried. At times, he was lost in thought when this reporter approached him to inquire about the state of the complex.
He looked up with a jerk, sighed and before he could say a single word, Oke grabbed an old bag of bags and pulled out several damaged bullets.
He then proceeded to tell how they are facing difficulties in accessing the facility.
“It’s pretty obvious, especially to those familiar with this stadium, that this facility is in a state of desperation. This floor is no longer good for the safety of the players and the equipment we use. Balls and other sports equipment have become an endangered species, with the irons and metals inside the hall pushing them to a short lifespan,” Oke lamented.
The volleyball skipper further noted that the dilapidated hall had detrimental effects on how long their balls were used. By this expression, Oke’s argument suggests that the deterioration of the state of the installation is weighing on their pockets. “You can see we now have less than two good balls. We used to have ten balls, but the balls have been deflated by pins and nails here,” he added, pointing out that each volleyball cost between 40,000 and 45,000 naira.
A shadow of his old self
The Kwara State Stadium complex is a sprawling edifice cherished by sports-loving residents of Kwara. From the front door to the training grounds, swimming pool, paired outdoor basketball and volleyball courts, main bowl, football academy and indoor sports hall, the complex of the stadium stands out as the first of its kind in the country.
The arena, built in 1977 by then-state military administrator, the late Brigadier General George Innih, remains one of the country’s state government-owned stadiums, with a large concentration of sports, 28 in number throughout the complex. . It hosted the National Sports Festival in 1985 and also hosted several other important sports tournaments, such as the World Handball Championship in 1991, among others.
The multi-sport “indoor sports hall” inside the complex, among many other sporting events, could accommodate basketball, volleyball, handball, table tennis, badminton, boxing, judo and taekwondo, including all para-sports for athletes with disabilities. The structure, which houses the offices of the Kwara State Sports Commission, also has by extension venues for games like darts and weightlifting.
However, this all-important facility is in shambles with a leaky roof, broken chairs for spectators and damaged air conditioners. The place becomes uninhabitable, especially during the rainy season. It is now a place for reptiles and other dangerous animals.
73 million naira is spent without accountability
Records obtained by The Informant247 show that in 2021, the sum of N72,485,773.22 was released for the rehabilitation of the building.
Records of Kwara State financial statements obtained by this news outlet show that a total sum of N516,180,034.00 was previously budgeted for the refurbishment of the hall in the financial year 2021.
About 7 months into 2022 and despite proof of the release of 73 million naira, not a single inch of renovation has been started at the facility. Our correspondent reports that the facility remains in ruins and no work has started even after the funds were released.
The building has seriously deteriorated and the environment has become very dirty. The chairs in the spectator seating area are broken and some have fallen out of position. The metal at the edge of the broken seats, according to the players, destroys the balls from time to time.
The floors are impassable and the windows have been blown out by the storm. The reading tracks have completely exhausted themselves. Every time it rains, it floods for several hours.
The roof is blown and the walls present an easy passage for lizards and other reptiles. Just like the roof, there are also gaping holes on the ground. A look in the office area showed that the terraces were also damaged.
The main entrance to the hall itself is dilapidated. The famous hall where some of the country’s best trained before the international championships is now in a squalid state.
Players and other users of the Kwara State sports facility continue to express their dissatisfaction with the state of the facility and how it continues to weaken their morale.
Olasunkanmi Abdulhameed, a basketball player who trained inside the hall, said the state government had done nothing recently to restore the facilities.
“They’re doing nothing here, at the moment, absolutely nothing,” he said.
“I have been training here for 2 years. They only worked on other installations. Nothing has been done here. Everything is neglected, it also stinks.
A Para Games official who spoke to The Informant247 but does not want his name mentioned for fear of victimization said: “Our government is just playing politics with this place. They go there, pay lip service and budget millions of naira for the renovation, ultimately nothing will be done. I don’t think the government is really ready to renovate this place.
A member of Kwara Badminton Veterans Club, Ahmed Ayinla chastised the current hall standard, pointing out that it no longer ticks the boxes of competition requirements.
“Going by a standard badminton hall, this place falls short of the standard in terms of facilities like changing rooms, shower rooms and even convenience,” he said. “The lighting in the room is another major problem. Some of the games that could be played at night now require “special arrangements”. The lights no longer work. Otherwise, there are a few small provisions just to make sure things continue.
“The floor itself is old. It’s supposed to be tangled. It is very rare that you see wood like this. It really affects the performance of athletes who train here on the wood and go there to perform on the mat,” Ayinla added.
A table tennis player, Bisola Asaju, noted that although a new hall is currently being built for the game, players still have a lot to do when it comes to the table tennis section of the facility. .
“One of the challenges we face here is the loose window in the roof which gives room for the wind and it’s not really good for our game as the wind was disrupting the movement of the balls.
“Every time it rains, we will have to stop the game because of some places where the rain was entering the hall. Some of our tables have now been ruined by rain,” said Bisola, who added that the ground was also worn out and often difficult to play when there was no light.
A Kwara State Sports Commission official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The renovation is long overdue. I remembered very well when I was young, the room hosted many international competitions such as the World Military Handball Games. But in recent years, the state of the indoor facilities has become worrying and it is a major concern for all stakeholders.
“The offices surrounding the indoor gym are also affected and it’s a bloody sight in the rainy season and it’s often more or less like we’re outside every time there’s a downpour,” said he added.
Kwara Sports Commission reacts
Asked about the money released for the renovation of the stadium’s indoor sports hall, Kwara state sports commission chairman Bola Magaji, who also lamented the state of the facility, said that he was unaware of any funds released for his rehabilitation.
“I am aware of the money released for the renovation of the swimming pool, the squash court and the Handball court, but I cannot say the same for this hall. You can see my office too. Is this how my office is supposed to be,” said the president, whose office is also in the complex.
He said the sports commission only came on board last year, adding that details of the renovation of the indoor gym were not in the inventory he took when he took over. function.
Kwara State Government on August 3, 2021 appointed Board Members of the Kwara State Sports Commission after the repeal of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development
Several attempts to reach the Finance Commissioner, Olasumbo Florence and the former Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, Barrister Iyabo Banire for comment were unsuccessful as they refused to take calls. or reply to text messages.
This story was published with the support of Civic Media Lab