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Day Atiku, others converged on Ibadan to celebrate Makinde

Day Atiku, others converged on Ibadan to celebrate Makinde
September 09
16:03 2021

BY BABAJIDE BALOGUN

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The past week has been quite busy for the residents of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital city. The reason is not far-fetched. The state government has done what generations of its predecessors could not do and, therefore, all drums and flair were set out to celebrate the feat.

It was the official commissioning of the remodeled Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba and Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State felt it was a good enough reason to blow his own trumpet.  The ovation of the celebration was loud as Ibadan hosted quite a few VIPs in the world of business, politics and sports, and entertainment.

The important highlight of the entire celebration is the showcasing of Governor Seyi Makinde as the real man of the people. The huge amount of sheer love that he received from the masses was simply phenomenal. It was inspiring to see how ordinary folks on the streets of Ibadan, mostly market women and artisans thronged to the roadside to wave at his motorcade.

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Ace musician Teni the entertainer dazzled dignitaries and other spectators at the commissioning to a session of beautiful performances. And when Governor Makinde led the retinue of guests led by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar into the arena, the whole stadium was thrown into thunderous applause.

At all traffic positions during the VIP motorcade to the stadium, there was an enormous show of love to the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Atiku, as the crowd rends his name in chorus.

Between the people of Oyo State and their governor, the remodeled Lekan Salami Stadium is a promise kept. It is part of the Omi Tuntun agenda, which is a commitment to renewal and restoration by Governor Makinde.

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The Makinde administration had promised massive investment in social infrastructure in Oyo State and if there is any big elephant in the room of infrastructural decay in the Pace Setters state, it is obviously the derelict state that the Lekan Salami Stadium hitherto was.

Constructed in 1989, the stadium has lived 32 years of repeated neglect by successive administrations in Oyo State. For many years, facilities in the stadium degenerated as a result of neglect by successive administrations. However, under the leadership of incumbent Governor Makinde, a grass to grace story of the stadium began to unfold. The administration initiated the remodeling project that has taken the stadium to the level of earning a hosting capability for international competitions. The main bowl of the stadium is fitted with FIFA-recommended specified standard natural grass, four dressing rooms which are equipped with modern showers, heaters and players’ lockers, modern and adjustable floodlights, five-mile radius CCTV, modern electronic scoreboard, and the Video Assisted Referee (VAR).

In addition, all the stands in the stadium are fully covered apart from a VIP lounge equipped with a grand style VIP seating arrangement. The unique aspect of the seating arrangement is that all the seats are numbered. In addition, the stadium boasts of two new specialized gymnasiums for combative sports and gymnastics; as well as a new 1,200-capacity tennis court. Of course, the remodeling work on the stadium would not be complete as Governor Makinde is an avowed tennis enthusiast and it is hoped that the governor will, himself, find time to patronize the facility.

It is obvious that Governor Makinde is putting his mouth where his money is, by taking a bold step at empowering youth sports enthusiasts. The governor has not hidden his policy priority of promoting Oyo State youths: be it in education investments, agro-business, political and public service appointments, and sports development.

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The remodeled stadium is equally expected to optimize the sporting performance of Oyo State in the national sports festivals, actualizing Governor Makinde’s vision to lift the state to the top of the table in future national sports festivals.

Lofty as the idea of the stadium renovation is and the facility upgrade around, it is preposterous that some unscrupulous opposition elements still chose the pick a fault with the governor on the topic.

They went to town attempting to blame the governor for causing the rainfall that clogged the field of play during the commissioning event and quickly shared some video of a leaking rooftop. They did not acknowledge that the stadium had been under a state of disrepair for 30 years and 8 of those years, at the minimum, are years when the government of the All Progressives Congress (APC) could have done something – no matter how little – on the stadium.

None of that meant anything to them!

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Rather, they went to the ultra highway of miscommunication trying to abuse the minds of the people about the effort by the Makinde administration. These politicians know that before the Wednesday, September 29, commissioning of that stadium, Ibadan had been under persistent rainfall which has saturated the soil from absorbing water. They blame the contractor for the leaking roof and the glee at which they share and rejoice about the viral video suggests that could have been the primary agent of saboteurs that compromised the roofing sheets.

But they know quite well that in many instances in European football, heavy rainfall causes the pitch to be waterlogged and reduces the kinetic impact of the ball. They know also that for a massive work of that scale, it is not impossible that there would be minor structural defects which the contractor would be obliged to fix even after the facility has been delivered.

The opposition in Oyo will not rejoice with the people for having a turn-around stadium. They will not be happy that the Makinde administration continues to deliver on its promises of renewal to the people. But whether they find a reason to rejoice with the people or not, Oyo State is in for a jolly good ride with Governor Makinde in the saddle and the people are not ready to stop that ride anytime soon.

Babajide Balogun wrote from Ologuneru, Ibadan.

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