Section: South West
Abstract: Built in 1976, the Ondo township stadium has served as a breeding ground for several athletes in the ancient town.
On this Tuesday morning sometime in April, agitated footballers are training at the Ondo township stadium football pitch. As this is the daily routine, nothing seems unusual until heavy rain starts and about two dozen footballers start running for shelter.
The stands, which would have served as shelter, have no roof as the roofing sheet, which was installed recently had been blown off by a heavy rainstorm.
Adeyeju Johnson, a 26-year-old footballer who plays for the local club, Dominion Football Club, is one of the scampering footballers.
“This stadium has helped us the local football teams in this town,” Mr Johnson, who hopes to become a professional someday, says. “We train and host competitions, invite other football teams from other local governments for friendly matches and others,” he added.
He recalled that the stadium was in a bad state before a recent intervention by the Ondo State Government to give it a lift. However, he added, the renovation was only a face touch as the stadium still lacks many amenities.
“During leagues, there are some matches played in the afternoon around 1 p.m. So, supporters hardly make it to the stadium due to the scorching sun knowing that there is no shade to go under.”
Mr Johnson advised the government to build a lasting stand and provide chairs for spectators.
Built in 1976, the Ondo township stadium has since served as a breeding ground for several athletes in the ancient town.
The functional part of the stadium consists of a race track, a football pitch and an administrative block. Also within the large expanse of land is an abandoned table tennis court. The remaining part of the stadium is currently used for farming.
In order to boost its service, the state government for three years since 2018 budgeted several million for its renovation.
In 2018, 2019 and 2020, N12 million, N6 million and N13 million, respectively, were budgeted for the upgrade of the stadium under the supervision of the Ondo State Sports Council.
In total, the state government has budgeted N31 million for the renovation of the stadium. UDEME could not ascertain how much was released for the renovation. Such information was not available on the state budget portal and in the budget summaries for the years in review. Efforts to get the information from the Ministry of Sport did not yield positive results.
Not Much Has Changed
Findings by this reporter show that despite the renovation work carried out, the 10,000-capacity stadium still lacks basic facilities.
For instance, the stadium does not have electricity, toilets for athletes, water, floodlights, seats for spectators, operations offices and kitchen.
Some users of the stadium said some transformers were provided during the administration of former Governor, Olusegun Mimiko, but they were stolen two weeks after installation. No attempt to provide electricity for the stadium has been made since then.
Lucky Emmanuel, a 17-year-old tennis player, lamented over how the poor quality of work done has affected their sports activities.
“When rain falls, fans run away. Everyone doesn’t want to be beaten by rain and there is nowhere to hide. The roof stand has fallen,” he said.
Oyinkansola Miracle, a 23-year-old Economics student of Adeyemi College of Education, has taken part in many boxing and racing competitions outside the state and has been training in the stadium for some years.
“Apart from the fact that the stadium has helped me in taking part in boxing and racing competitions outside the state, I have also won awards from the Eki Day’s Boxing competition held at the stadium every year,” she said, calling on the state government to do a complete renovation to allow “many talents (to) rise.”
Similarly, Godspower Dorcas, one of the local referees in the town told UDEME that the stadium had afforded her the opportunity to improve her officiating skills. She described the lack of toilets as ‘inconvenient’ while urging the government to intervene.
“To be frank and sincere with you, there are no toilets for the athletes and the one for the referees [is] not working and we have moved to repair it with our money but you know the government. Imagine someone is having a running stomach, that is the major reason why toilets are needed because the person cannot use shotput in the presence of every athlete,” she said.
When contacted via a telephone call, the Ondo State Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Dele Ologun, told this reporter that he could not account for 2018, 2019 and 2020 budgets placed under the Ministry as he resumed office in 2021.
Mr Ologun added that he was not sure if the project’s documents under investigation are with the ministry, noting that if this reporter needed information regarding previous years’ projects, he should contact the Ministry’s former Commissioners.
“My brother, the ministry and I are handicapped and could not give you adequate information needed, whether money was released, the contractor that got the project and what are the things expected to be carried out, because I assumed office last year and projects that I can give adequate information on are those nominated or captured in the 2021 and 2022 budget documents.”
UDEME reached out to the former commissioner, Dotun Owanikin, for comment but redirected the reporter back to the incumbent Commissioner. He served as commissioner between 2019 and 2020.
UDEME reached out to Saka Ogunleye, the commissioner who served in 2018 but his known phone line was unavailable.
Keywords: Ondo state, Ondo township stadium, renovation
This investigation was carried out by a u-monitor for the UDEME project. UDEME is an initiative of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development, under its Accountability Programme.
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