On November 29, Daily Trust Nigeria published a news story that claimed that the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has demanded 81 million naira to cut the grass at the national stadium in Abuja.
This news report was republished by other major newspapers and blogs, including Sahara Reporters.
According to the report: “the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, said that the government needs N81 million to cut the grass that has taken over the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja.”
“He made the revelation while speaking during a seminar organized by the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria
The report further said the minister said he had reached out to the Abuja Environmental Protection Board for an assessment of the stadium, which was built in 2003 with N53 billion on 29 hectares (72 acres) of land.
It quoted the minister saying “We approached AEPB to come to see what can be done to clear the grass and weed in the stadium and they told us it would cost us N81m.”
This story has generated a buzz across Nigeria’s social media, with Nigerians calling out the government for extravagant spending.
N-VA’s check on the authenticity of the claim that the Sports Minister demanded 81 million naira to cut the grass at the National Stadium in Abuja revealed a clear picture of the statement attributed to Buhari’s cabinet member.
Although, the Daily Trust has deleted the story on its website, other news platforms that had published the story and noticed that the Minister was quoted out of context only inserted the correct quote as shown below:
“If we tell Nigerians we used N81m which is not even available; there will be an outcry. The funds are not there for us, and that is why we are partnering with private investors to bring back the key components of our infrastructures.”
Also, a few hours after the story began trending on November 29, the Minister posted a tweet on his personal handle to debunk the story published by Daily Trust and other media agencies that cited them.
His tweet read, “The Fact: “If we tell Nigerians we used N81m to cut grass, which is not even available, there will be an outcry. The funds are not really there for us and that is why we are partnering with private investors to bring back the key components of our infrastructure,” – Sunday Dare.”
Dare stated that the story is out of context, Misleading, and misrepresentation while stressing that his Ministry was given a bill, which was not accepted.
“It will be detrimental to spend such an amount. And it can be better invested. That is what I said. This is not what they have reported.”
Also, a statement released on November 29 by the Minister’s Media Adviser, John Joshua Akanji said the headline by the author of the story was misleading and incongruous with the content.
The statement reads in part: “What the Minister said was that it would be wrong and a misplaced priority to spend a huge amount of 81 MIllion to cut the grass when there are so many other competing matters that need to be attended to. The Minister said a one-time clearing of the stadium would cost 81million naira.”
The statement said further that, “If I tell Nigerians that I would be spending 81 mIllion naira to cut the grass so that there would be no rats and grasscutters, what do you think of their response. The same press would condemn such action as a waste of money and misplacement of priorities.”
“The Moshood Abiola National Stadium Abuja which sits on a 43- hectare of land needed the government’s attention for many years until the Minister convinced business mogul Alhaji Aliko Dangote to rehabilitate it. Work is ongoing and is expected to be completed early next year,” the statement concluded.
The story published by Daily Trust, Sahara Reporters and other newspaper platforms with the headline, “We need N81 Million to cut grass in Abuja stadium- Sunday Dare,” is MISLEADING.