Fact check: Did sports minister say he needed N81 million to cut grass in Abuja stadium?

Claim in Daily Trust reporting:

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, said that it will cost the ministry N81 million to cut the grass and clear the weed that have taken over the MKO Abiola National Stadium in Abuja.

He stated this recently while speaking during the one-day seminar organised by the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) FCT chapter.

According to him, the ministry approached the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) for assessment in the stadium, which was built in 2003 with N53 billion on a 29 hectares (72 acres) of land.

The stadium is divided into Package A which houses the Main Bowl and Package B which houses other facilities like basketball courts, NFF office, volleyball courts, tennis courts, squash courts.

“We approached AEPB to come see what can be done to clear the grass and weed in the stadium and they told us it will cost us N81m.

“If we tell Nigerians we used N81m 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 infrastructures,” he said.

What Sunday Dare actually said about cutting the grass in Abuja stadium:


Daily Trust did not elaborate on the fact that the figure for cutting the grass in Abuja stadium was, according to the minister, recommended by another government agency.

Dare did not say his ministry decided that such amount of money would be needed for the task. He only said that another agency said the ministry would need that much to cut the grass. He also “stylishly” complained that the figure was too big for the present economic circumstances, and added that his ministry was taking the burden off the government by engaging the private sector to get the job done.

In context, Dare’s comment was more of a tacit protest against AEPB’s recommendation and an appreciation for how Nigerians would feel about allocating such an amount to cut grass under the current economic climate.



Daily Trust did include the minister’s quote but the story’s headline, “We need N81 Million to cut grass in Abuja stadium — Sunday Dare”, is contextually inaccurate. And the newspaper did nothing to correct the error in the body of the story.

It would have been better if the newspaper attributed the claim for the need for N81 million to AEPB. Daily Trust could then add that Dare was the one who drew attention to AEPB’s recommendation. The newspaper should also have pointed out that the minister did not express support for the recommendation.

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