By Victor Okoye, Millicent Ifeanyichukwu
Some football enthusiasts in Abuja on Wednesday reacted to the renaming of the Abuja National Stadium as MKO Abiola Stadium.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday proposed the re-naming of the Abuja National Stadium after the acclaimed winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 president elections, Late Bashorun MKO Abiola.
In an address at the 2019 National Democracy Day at the Eagle Square, Abuja, President Buhari announced that henceforth, the gigantic complex, conceived and built by the Obasanjo Administration at the cost of N5billion, would be called MOSHOOD ABIOLA NATIONAL STADIUM.
Reacting to the development, some football enthusiasts as well as fans commended Buhari for honouring MKO Abiola, even as others lamented the present state of the Abuja National Stadium.
Godwin Bamigboye, the Chairman, FCT Football Coaches Association said the renaming of the National Stadium after MKO Abiola was a welcome development, adding that it was well deserving for a man who contribited immensely to the growth of sports.
“MKO was a man who contributed immensely to the growth and development of sports in the country, so renaming the stadium after him was definitely not out of place.
“We all know that sports, especially football is a unifying instrument and that was what Abiola stood for. He was a peaceful and fun-loving philanthropist who gave his life for the unity of the country,” he said.
Bamigboye however, lamented about the poor state of the stadium, saying that he was hopeful that the renaming of the stadium after a prominent figure would bring about a change in the outlook of the stadium’s structure and facilities.
“The facilities at the stadium are nothing to write home about as they are dilapidated having been abandoned for a long time.
“The stadium cannot even host Super Eagles matches because of its terrible state. So I think the government of the day must ensure something drastic and urgent is done about it, especially to the turf at the main bowl,” he said.
Emmanuel Amakiri, the Proprietor of Amakson Football Academy said, “President Buhari renamed a dilapidated, abandoned and non-functional Abuja stadium after MKO Abiola and people are happy.
“These were the same people who almost killed Former president Goodluck Jonathan and protested heavily when he renamed Unilag after MKO.
“What’s the importance of Abuja stadium to sporting activities in Nigeria presently? When was the last time the stadium hosted the Super Eagles.
“It is better you do not name anything after him than that dead stadium,” he said.
Emmanuel Babayaro, an ex-international said renaming the Abuja Stadium after Abiola was good, adding however, that renaming the Eagle Square after such a prominent figure like MKO was more symbolic to democracy than the Abuja Stadium.
“I really don’t have an issue with the renaming of the stadium after MKO Abiola but my candid opinion is that he (MKO) deserved so much more than that.
“We are talking of a man who literally gave his life and contributed immensely to the socio-political development, peace and unity of the country,” he said.
Some football fans also reacted on twitter following the renaming of the Abuja National Stadium.
David Abalaka@davidaloka said: “Just heard Buhari named Abuja stadium after MKO Abiola. Is it not the same abandoned stadium where cows are grazing, maybe this will make them give the necessary attention to the once magnificent stadium,” he tweeted.
Damilola Adekeye @Damocleansword said: “Renaming the Abuja Stadium after Abiola is good. Posthumously declaring him President-Elect and letting history reflect that would be much better.”
Audu Yisa@ AY1 said, “Which would have been more appreciated The University of Lagos named after him or the Abandoned Abuja stadium.”
Kelechi Uchendu@Diegowhykay said: “So they want to finally useless and forget the mighty Moshood Abiola name by naming the Useless Abuja Stadium after him. When last did a national football match or event occurred here?”
Farouk Ibrahim@FK149 sid: “Nice gesture to rename Abuja National Stadium after #MKOAbiola. But Pls can @MBuhari also make sure the Abuja Stadium is in proper shape. The Stadium can’t even host Super Eagles matches because of its terrible state.” he tweeted.
On his part, a former Super Eagles Midfielder, Mutiu Adepoju, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for renaming the Abuja National Stadium after Moshood Abiola.
Adepoju said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday.
President Buhari on Wednesday in Abuja announced the change of name of the National Stadium, Abuja to Moshood Abiola National Stadium during his inaugural Democracy Day celebration speech at the Eagle Square.
The ex-international recalled how MKO Abiola, as he was fondly called, supported football in Nigeria, the Super Eagles and all other sports in general.
He said no honour was too much for Abiola who was referred to as the Pillar of Sports in Africa.
“I think it is a good development because Abiola, while he was alive, did a lot for Sports in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
“I recall how in Saudi 89 (FIFA U-20 World Cup), despite our loss in the final, Chief Abiola encouraged us and rewarded us with things I cannot forget,” he said.
Adepoju called on other philanthropists and corporate organisations to keep supporting sports as government could not do it alone.
Oladipo: Renaming of Abuja National Stadium as Moshood Abiola Stadium a noble decision
Rafiu Oladipo, the President-General of Nigeria Football Supporters Club (NFSC), on Wednesday in Lagos hailed the renaming of Abuja National Stadium as Moshood Abiola National Stadium by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Oladipo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that President Buhari’s pronouncement at the Democracy Day celebration at the Eagle Square in Abuja was a very noble decision.
He said the late Moshood Abiola contributed meaningfully to Nigeria’s sports development, particularly in the football sector, and really deserved the national recognition and honour by President Buhari.
President Buhari had on Wednesday announced the change of the name of Abuja National Stadium to Moshood Abiola National Stadium, in honour of the acclaimed winner of the 1993 General Elections.
“President Buhari has taken a noble decision today by renaming the Abuja National Stadium after the late M.K.O. Abiola, and this has made this year’s Democracy Day significant and I am impressed with the development.
“M.K.O. Abiola did so much for sports development in Nigeria. He was a key supporter of NFSC in our activities and he gave us a bus which made our movements easy,” Oladipo said.
The NFSC President-General said he would help to publicise the pronouncement of the renaming across the world, adding that the late M.K.O. Abiola merited the recognition by President Buhari.
“The renaming of Abuja National Stadium after the late M.K.O. Abiola was indeed a well-deserved honour and a commendable resolution in the right direction by President Buhari.
“I am going to take this news round the world because the late M.K.O. Abiola in 1982 won the Sports Ambassador award in Senegal, and I was there to witness it,” he said.
NAN reports that MKO Abiola who died on July 7 in 1998 was on June 6 in 2018 awarded posthumously the national honor of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) by President Buhari. (NAN)
Source: National accord