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National Stadium shop owners plead with President Buhari on eviction notice

Some shop owners at the National Stadium, Lagos, on Thursday appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, to reconsider the seven days eviction notice issued to them.

The  minister had on Aug. 17 issued seven days eviction notice to business owners operating at the stadium to give room for the plan renovation of the sport facility.

Speaking with journalists in Lagos on Thursday, the shop owners said that the appeal became imperative going by the economic implication of their sudden eviction notice.

They told newsmen that many Nigerians were still struggling with the economic hardship occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

A special athlete, who owns a shop in the Stadium, but pleaded anonymity, said the eviction notice had brought emotional shock, which he said, would cause more economic hardship to all occupants of the complex.

“As a disabled athlete, with lesser attention from the government, I was able to set up this small scale business to support myself and members of my family.

“Looking around, you will see that I am not just the only disabled athlete who has a shop where we sell soft drinks and stationery to staff, athletes and visitors.

“The Federal Government should at least provide alternatives rather than an outright eviction.

“I plead that the Federal Government should give us more time, at “We have children, aged parents, wives and extended family members who depend on us; whatever affects our finances will definitely affect them,” he said.

The disabled athletes said that the government should have given them a year or two years noticed to enable shop owner to restrategise on what to do.

He said there was no assurance that the occupants would be reabsorbed after completion of the renovation.

Another shop owner, Olufemi Adewale, who sells Sports kits, said they got approval from the ministry before setting up their businesses.

Adewale said that their activities regularly attracted people to the stadium.

“It is not as if we erected illegal structures to deface the stadium; we are bonafide occupants and rent paying tenants who got approval from the ministry before we set up our businesses.

“This seven days eviction notice is just too sudden. We appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to come to our aids.

“We have contributed in no small measures in driving traffic to the stadium through our legitimate business activities, while we also pay our taxes.

“If we are chased out like common criminals, I wonder how government wants us to survive,” he said.

Meanwhile, a former Chairman of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Lagos Chapter, Fred Edoreh, had appealed to the Federal Government to give human face to the proposed renovation of the stadium.

Edoreh, addressing newsmen at the stadium, commended the minister for kick starting the long awaited renovation of one of Nigeria’s national heritage, which he said many of his predecessors had failed to achieve.

“It gladdens my heart that in my lifetime, National Stadium in Lagos, will wear a new look.

“But, while we embark on this massive project, we must also be strategic in our approach.

“It is more inauspicious at this period that the means of livelihood of those operating shops in the complex, had been truncated for months by the COVID-19 lockdown.

“Just when it seems to be easing and they are looking forward to returning to pick their lives again, the government strikes to dash their hope with this eviction, notice,” the sports journalist said.

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