*To probe vandalisation of Abuja Stadium
Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare has condemned the vandalisation of facilities at the newly refurbished Moshood Abiola stadium by fans following Super Eagles’ failure to qualify for Qatar 2022 World Cup.
The Ghanaians secured a 1-1 draw in Abuja on Tuesday to progress to the World Cup based on the away goals rule — after holding Nigeria to a goalless draw in Kumasi last Friday.
Following the final whistle, some fans stormed the pitch and damaged the facilities in the stadium.
ALSO READ: Meet 29-year-old Pingping with baby face
Reacting in a statement released Wednesday, Sunday Dare said an investigative committee has been set up to look at the security breaches and the vandalisation that occurred after the match.
“We drew 0-0 in Kumasi and drew 1-1 here and that meant the away goal rule gave Ghana the edge. It is most unfortunate and regrettable that we are not going to Qatar, but that is sports. Nothing is 100% certain.
“On our part, the Federal Government gave every support necessary. We got the stadium ready in all its glory. We mobilised Nigerians and other football lovers to fill up the stadium.
“The NFF called up a solid cast of players. 60,000 voices sang the National anthem in what must have been one of the most uplifting moments one could imagine. The fans gave their vocal support till the very end.
“The president of the nation, though saddened by the tragic events in Kaduna was determined to lend his support, and not let terrorists determine and define the activities and schedules of the Nation and its leaders with their opportunistic and wicked acts. – which would be kowtowing to their agenda. On the day, it wasn’t enough.
“We will move quickly because we still have a lot of work to do to give Nigerians the calibre of senior team it deserves.
“We will review all that we did leading to the game, take tough steps to redirect the development of our football, and restore the DNA of Nigerian football. Whatever is necessary will be done quietly, firmly, and determinedly.
“I believe better days are ahead for Nigerian football but only if we make the necessary changes.
“We need to rebrand our football and return to the grassroots and youth football culture of the past. Nigeria is a football-loving Nation and it deserves the best.
“I understand the unhappiness that followed our nonqualification for Qatar 2022.
“We take responsibility. We will rebuild and thank the Super Eagles players for their service. Our apologies as a Football administration ecosystem go out to fans who struggled to make it to the appropriate seating positions.
“That said, vandalising and destroying sporting infrastructure at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium is not acceptable regardless of unhappiness. The Nigerians that did this must be condemned.
“When I watched the clips and after I inspected the damage, knowing the work and the amount of efforts and resources that have gone into resuscitating the edifice, both from the private and public sectors, it was just very saddening. In a single day, I was weighed down by our missing out of the World Cup and then the vandalisation. A very sad development.
“I saw a number of young persons destroying valuable items in the stadium. Obviously, as Nigerians, they have a right to be disappointed, but they do not have the right to destroy public property in which monies from taxpayers and funds from patriotic private individuals were invested.
“No excuse can be advanced for destroying infrastructure put in place to fix infrastructure gaps. It is akin to shooting one’s self in the foot. The mentality of destroying things built to serve law-abiding citizens is condemnable and will be sanctioned.
“Already, work is ongoing. Two committees are working concurrently. An investigative committee is looking at the security breaches and the vandalisation that occurred while the other committee is a combination of people from the Sports Ministry, the NFF, Para Military, and Security people. They worked on the Nigeria -Ghana match preparations.
“These committees are expected to give a comprehensive report by Tuesday next week.
“On the whole, the efforts we have been putting into birthing a long-term sustainable framework for sports development over the past three years will soon come together.
“We are close to having a football master plan and will soon deliver a Sports as a business policy which we believe is the only sustainable pathway to a viable sports sector.
“The events of Tuesday highlight and validate many thrusts of the policy intentions especially grassroots spotting and development of talents.
“I appeal for the patience of Nigerians and thank the law-abiding citizens who have joined their voices to condemn the acts of vandalisation and who trooped out to support the super eagles,” the statement read.