There was a drama at the swimming pool complex of the National Stadium, Lagos, on Monday as officials and contractor of the project convinced the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, in vain on why the pool had not been renovated despite its approval by the Federal Government.
Dalung, who is on a two-day official working tour of Lagos, was inspecting facilities at the National Stadium.
Work was ongoing at the pool complex when the minister arrived, but Dalung didn’t seem convinced and asked to be given a date when the arena would be completed.
The contractor of the project, Joseph Odobeatu, said it would be completed within six weeks, which irked the minister, who then gave him an ultimatum.
“Where is the project manager? O’Jez (Odobeatu) I don’t want to see you; listen to me. I don’t want to see the work going on here as a political gimmick. I don’t want a situation where as I’m leaving here, the painters will also leave,” Dalung stated.
“If you tell me that this project will be completed in 100 years, I will wait. But if after that I come and you provide excuses why it is not completed, you will need God and the angels to intervene for you.
“When you talk to me, choose your choice of words; I’m interested in putting this particular project to use before the end of the first quarter (of 2016). If we release funds for you, we will follow you to the touchline. I don’t allow contractors to be paid and they use our money to change their fleet of cars and woo new girlfriends.
“My position is that before the end of the first quarter, people should be swimming in this pool. If it’s too difficult for you to meet up, I’ll help you but make sure that this pool is completed before the end of first quarter.”
One of the officials, in trying to persuade Dalung, spoke in low tone but the Plateau-born minister told him to be audible so that everyone could hear him.
The official stated, “Part of the pool is broken and we’ve brought a sample of mosaic tiles that have not been approved. The samples were brought in yesterday (Sunday).”
But President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, who is part of Dalung’s delegation, said mosaic tiles were no longer in vogue in modern pool building.
“This pool is outdated. What is in vogue now is called the infinity wave-less pool. It doesn’t affect the swimmers and it’s the latest in pool technology. What we are renovating here is the same pool of over 30 years,” Amaju told Dalung.
He added, “If you want to modernise this pool, take a look at what we have in Oghara, Warri and Port Harcourt; they are wave-less and modern pools. If you are putting money here, we should make it modern and in line with international standards. If you are going to modernise this place, you don’t use mosaic tiles, it’s archaic.”
But one of the project personnel, who was aggrieved with Amaju’s comments, said in a low tone, “What does he (Amaju) know about swimming? He should go and manage football.”
Dalung also inspected the Games Village, the main bowl, tennis courts, and unused expanse of land inside the sporting arena amongst others. The minister’s inspection continues on Tuesday (today).