MKO Abiola, Sani Abacha and others who have stadiums named after them

President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari announced on June 12th 2019, that the National Stadium in Abuja will be renamed after the late Chief MKO Abiola. Buhari said this while giving his speech to celebrate Nigeria’s 20-year-old democracy at the Eagles Square in Abuja.

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“Today, I propose the renaming of the Abuja National Stadium,” Buhari said this during his Democracy Day speech at the Eagle’s Square, Abuja. “Henceforth it will be called the Moshood Abiola National Stadium.

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The stadium was built to host the 8th Edition of the All African games and has also served as the home of Super Eagles in the past. However, it has been left in a depleted state for some years now with the stadium in need of some serious renovations which will hopefully start with this name change.

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Having said that, the Late Chief MKO Abiola will not be the first prominent Nigerian to have a stadium named after him and that’s why we’ll be taking a look at some other stadiums that have been named after National icons.

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Sani Abacha Stadium Kano: The stadium is named after Nigeria’s brutal dictator who ruled between 1993-1998. It’s currently the home of NPFL side Kano Pillars and has a capacity of 16,000. It has hosted several international competitions including the 2000 African Cup of Nations and the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

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Some other information about the Stadium include:

Field: Well maintained grass turf with digital scoreboard

Medical Facility: it has two ambulances and a close by medical centre

Crowd Control: It has four major exits and steel fencing

Security: Police on guard during a match

Media Facility: It has OBS media centre.

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Obafemi Awolowo Stadium Ibadan: Formerly called the Liberty stadium, is located in Ring Road Ibadan. Built in 1960, the stadium was named Liberty stadium to mark Nigeria’s independence. The stadium, at inception, aside football pitch in the main bowl with floodlights, also boasted the indoor sports halls, swimming pool, courts for tennis, volleyball, handball, basketball, hockey, etc.

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It has hosted the 1980 African Cup of Nations and also the World Youth Championships. The stadium was named after Obafemi Awolowo on November 12, 2010, by the then president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan. Awolowo was the Premier of the Western Region at the time the stadium was built. He was also part of the people that worked for Nigeria’s independence.

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Other things to know about the Stadium include:

Capacity: 35, 000 people with VIP viewing area

Field: Well maintained grass turf and a digital scoreboard

Medical Facility: It has a medical clinic and two Ambulance on standby

Crowd Control: The stadium has six exits and 7000 capacity Public park

Security: Police are on guard always

Media Facility: FIFA grade Media centre and equipment.

Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Enugu: Opened in 1992, the stadium was named after another Nigerian who played a key role in the Country’s independence in the person of Nnamdi Azikiwe. It is the home of NPFL side Enugu Rangers and also hosted the World Youth Championship in 1999 including Nigeria’s quarter-final loss to Mali. The stadium, which previously had natural grass, now has an artificial turf and a new video matrix scoreboard.

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These, and other refurbishing works, were designed to give the stadium a more modern and technologically driven edifice because it was one of the hosting stadiums of FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009. It hosted matches in Group D, which comprises Turkey, Costa Rica, Burkina Faso and New Zealand at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009.

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Other things about the Stadium include:

Capacity: 22, 000 people with a VIP viewing area

Field: Artificial Turf with video matrix scoreboard and floodlights.

Medical Facility:

Crowd Control: It has eight exits and spectators could all disperse under 30 minutes

Security: It has private security outfit on guard all the time and CCTV

Media Facility: Well equipped OBS media centre.

Teslim Balogun Stadium Lagos: One of the few stadiums to be named after a former Footballer. Located in Surulere Lagos, works started in 1984 under the administration of military governor Gbolahan Mudasiru, but it wasn’t completed until 2007 under the administration of Babatunde Raji Fashola. It has hosted Nigeria’s FA Cup final matches. The Teslim Balogun stadium was also the main venue of the 18th National Sports festival in December 2012. The Teslim Balogun stadium is not the same as the National Stadium in Surulere.

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Godswill Akpabio Stadium Akwa Ibom: Arguably the best stadium in Nigeria today. The stadium was named after former Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio who was at the helm of the state affairs when the stadium was constructed. The 30,000 seater ultra modern multipurpose sports complex was modelled after Allianz Arena. It’s now regarded as the home of Super Eagles having hosted all of the team’s World Cup and Nations Cup qualifiers in the past three years.

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The cost of building the Akwa Ibom International Stadium was estimated at $250 million. The stadium structure is in two phases which include a 400m-running track for athletic events, and is the pilot part of Uyo Sports Park development, and is enclosed by a white triangular-shaped outer covering that encircles the whole spectator stand. The East Stand and Curves can seat approximately 22,500 people.

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The Governors’ Lounge has a sitting capacity for between 30 and 40 VVIPs and is located in the Grand Stand on Level Two. It is constructed to carry little more than 30,000 spectators whether for soccer or track and field events, while the Grand Stand can comfortably accommodate about 7,500 spectators, including the VIP/VVIPs. There is also a six-lane track built specifically for athletes to train.

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The Stadium itself consists of;

30,000 capacity covered main bowl

Bullet Proof VVIP/VIP areas

Box office

Media facilities

Two scoreboards that comprise electronic scoreboard and video facilities for replays

Floodlights

Eight-lane 400m standard track

Warm-up facility with six-lane 400m track

A standby power supply system

30 emergency exit points

7,500 seater Grand Stand

Helipad

Two dressing rooms

Ambulance Bay

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