Abdullahi Ganduje, the governor of Kano State, has ordered the contractor handling the renovation of Sani Abacha Stadium in the state to halt work to allow the campaign rally of Atiku Abubakar hold.
Abubakar is the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The governor, who is of the ruling All Progressive Congress, in a statement signed by the commissioner for Information, Muhammad Garba, on Wednesday, February 6, 2019, said the directive does not affect ”the ongoing overhaul of the indoor sports complex.”
Accordingly, the contractor has been directed to remove all its equipment until the end of the rally.
The state’s football team, Kano Pillars, has also been instructed to use the Pillars Stadium, Sabon Gari for training sessions.
Rabiu Bichi, the acting chairman of the PDP in Kano, had earlier on Wednesday accused the state government of embarking on the renovation to deny PDP access to the stadium.
The stadium had earlier been used for the President Muhammadu Buhari’s presidential rally in the state.
The renovation of the stadium was aimed at giving the stadium a face-lift. It included the installation of the new scoreboard, running track and provision of sources for steady water supply, the government said.
“Prior to this development, the PDP had slated February 2 for the rally, which informed government’s decision to mobilise the contractor only for the party to fix another date for the campaign rally when the contractor had already moved to site,” the official explained.
“As a democrat who believes in freedom of association, His Excellency the governor did not order the closure of the stadium to frustrate the campaign rally of the PDP. The stadium only closed for the intended renovation works,’’ the statement added.
It wished the PDP a successful outing.
The statement also urged the leadership of the party to ensure orderliness during the event in order to avert the destruction of facilities at the stadium.
Bichi had earlier said the PDP applied twice to use the stadium for the presidential rally prior to the government’s decision.
According to him, the party had earlier applied for permission to use the venue for Mr Abubakar’s visit.
While waiting for the approval, the visit was shifted to February 10, he said.
He said the party then wrote another letter to Kano Sports Commission requesting to use the complex during the PDP re-fixed presidential rally.
“When we wrote the second letter, the commission replied that they would discuss the matter with Governor Ganduje first. On that very day, we heard in media that the stadium has been closed for two weeks for renovation.
“I was surprised we are still in this primitive politics of intolerance. President Buhari has visited all PDP states, and he was granted venues for his rally. Atiku has also visited APC states and he was granted permission to use their stadiums for presidential rally. But here in Kano, we were confronted by (an) intolerant (governor) who did not understand contemporary politics,” he said.
The Kano sports commission had announced the closure of the stadium on Monday, a week to the visit of Mr Abubakar, a move perceived by the PDP as an attempt to prevent it from using the stadium.