Solomom Dalong, the Minister of Youth and Sports in Nigeria, has said that the government can no longer maintain the country’s national stadium in the capital of Abuja.

The Abuja National Stadium, which has a capacity of 60,491, was opened in 2003 for the 8th All Africa Games, and has since been used to stage various cultural and religious events.

However, despite being a relatively new stadium, Minister Dalong said that the facility is no longer suitable for hosting major sporting events, citing a lack of ancillary facilities such as a hotel and recreational park.

The Minister also said that as the government is not in a position to support the stadium moving forward, the site should instead be managed by the private sector, or funding should be put forward for the necessary supporting facilities.

“I agree that there is under-utilisation of sports facilities in Abuja; that has taken us to the issue of concession,” Dalong said, according to the website. “Government cannot maintain those things. So what we intend to do is to proceed with the concession process which we met on ground.

“FEC in 2012 had approved concession of Abuja and Lagos stadiums. We have proceeded with it and even appointed consultants. We are at the stage of getting the approval of BPE. From there, we can now proceed to call for bids and engage the private sector so that we can run the concession arrangement with them so that they can come in.

“We have also received the drawing on the proposed ‎transformation of the place which will include the creation of an artificial lake in the Abuja stadium that will provide for 12 water sports; then the building of a five-star hotel here in Abuja. Lagos will have the same thing. The adjourning land will have a park.

“The moment you put these two, the economic status of the stadium will be uplifted and you will have ‎foreign athletes coming in because there will be facilities. That’s the best way we can maximise stadium in Abuja in view of how it was located.”