African Champions Nigeria are scheduled to play their second round Brazil World cup 2014 qualifier with Burkina Faso in the newly renovated 60.000 capacity Abuja National Stadium.
The N57.6 billion (about $380 million) stadium was renovated by German construction firm Schlaich Bergermann & Partners with the help of Julius Berger Nigeria PLC, a local engineering firm. It was handed over to Nigerian sports authorities on September 17, 2013.
The stadium was abandoned two years ago after a power outage made it impossible to water the pitch and quickly became an eyesore with overgrown shrubs. It became home to criminals after it was abandoned.
The Nigerian government had to pump in N300 million (nearly $2,000,000) to renovate the stadium. The said amount has raised a lot of dust and the House of Representatives committee on sports has decided to probe the contract.
With a $7 million maintenance cost, the Nigerian government now wants to give management of the stadium to a private consortium so that they could hire out the venue to various sporting and socio-cultural activities that could help cushion the huge maintenance cost.
According to statistics, the Abuja National Stadium main bowl accommodates 60,491 spectator seats covered by a lightweight roof construction. It also has two overlapping spectator tiers; the lower one accommodating 32,000 seats and the upper 28,000.
The stadium is located in Nigeria’s rapidly developing Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. After about two years of abandonment, it has been refurbished at the speculated cost of about N300 million (nearly $2,000,000) and handed over to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
Until it was closed down two years back, the multi-million dollar stadium hosted home matches of the Nigerian national team, the Super Eagles, as well as being a centre for various social, cultural and religious events.
The stadium complex was constructed along with a Games Village on July 18, 2000, with the primary aim of hosting the 8th All Africa Games which took place in October 2003.
The first game played at the Abuja National Stadium was the inaugural football match between two local rival teams; the Shooting Stars of Ibadan and Sunshine Stars of Akure on April 8, 2003.
Shooting Stars’ striker Shakiru Lawal scored the first goal in the complex which became the only goal of the game after just five minutes.
The complex gave the country confidence to bid for various international events, pushing the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) to give the Nigeria Volleyball Federation (NVBF) the provisional hosting rights of the 2007 World Youth Championship because of the facilities the stadium had.
The Abuja National Stadium is said to have been constructed in compliance with the requirements of international sport associations, particularly world football governing body FIFA and the international athletics federation IAAF.
It also meets the requirements of the international safety standards as it is equipped with emergency service units, closed circuit security cameras, crowd control steel fencing, as well as stand-by fire-fighting equipment and metal detectors which have been put in place to avoid any misfortunes.
Former Nigerian sports boss Amos Adamu advised the government to privatise the Abuja National Stadium immediately after the 2003 All-Africa Games in order to forestall the vandalisation typical of publicly owned buildings in the country but that never happened.