By Theopilus Udo
The government and people of Rivers state should as a matter of respect to Nigerians and football lovers apologize for the risk to their lives yesterday.
Rivers state government had last month perfected their plans to attempt man slaughter by hosting the international friendly match between Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo in an abandoned uncompleted side of Amiesimaka stadium in Omagwa Local government area of Rivers state.
The abandoned construction site was last visited more than two years ago and has since then been a habitation for rodents and unfriendly insects.
There abound reasons the Rivers state, Nigeria Football Federation and stakeholders who accepted to host the match in such an eyesore abandoned construction site should do the needful of pleading for forgiveness from supporters and football lovers who traveled far and near to cheer their darling team.
I believed that the below reasons will cause the Rivers state and others involved to succumb to this advocacy for a due apology.
Sanitary condition in the stadium – on this, one may forgive without hesitation because as I stated earlier, where the match took place is not yet a stadium but an abandoned construction site which some heartless fellows chose to take Nigerians there. Some of the fans and journalists like yours truly left Omagwa local government area suffering from serious insect bite, a situation that I’m still on medications believing God for a healing miracle. I pray this should not be same to my colleagues and fans.
The Playing Pitch is yet one of the reasons apology should be duly made to Nigerians because the Rivers state government and other officials did not take into cognisant of the need to select a stadium with good playing pitch for the match. The playing turf can’t be described in just an episode because it need series of writing. To say the least, the pitch was not just bumpy and not even good for our domestic league as even Junior Lokosa could not express himself on an off the ball. The grass on the pitch is as wild as my unfertilized village farm.
Next is the lack of Crowd Management and Control – On this, the organisers of the match failed woefully as fans were left at the Mercy of arm joint security men who turn entering the stadium to a military tutorials. Some fans ended up losing valuables in the process.
Fans Turnout at the match was not encouraging, perhaps the fault was as a result of poor management. One would have said the turn out was above averag but since 60 percent of the people present in the venue were political jobbers coming to show solidarity to the governor for his second term ambition, I will say the turn out was poor. Despite the Super Eagles leading 1-0 before first half, majority of these acclaimed fans left the stadium. Such match need enough publicity that will attract the real fans of Super Eagle to be in attendance to cheer them to Victory.
Communication Network was not helping matter at all. Knowing this to cause those in question to do the needful, as an attempt appease the fans to continue to win their confidence. Analysing what happened yesterday, one could describe Network as terrible. I can plead with some of the journalists currently replying queries for not giving their media outfit live report of the match to pray that this punishment should not happen again.
Lighting system was nothing to write home about, It become clear that it was a jungle. When night set in, it was shameful to realise that only two set of light could turn on leaving few fans remaining in the stadium in half darkness as they were left with no option to put on flash light from their phones to fine their way out.
The confusion in the Location Of Stadium was not only a big mess that warrant an apology, but it evoked pity from those affected. The location of the stadium confused even NFF as they printed Yakubu Gawon stadium in the accreditation tag just for them to discover it was a village completely out of Rivers state capital. Just to get to where one can start seeing indomie kind of settlers, a vehicle with escort will use 30 minutes and about 45 minutes to one hour just to get to town in a place like hotel presidential. I was privileged to be in a bus with NFF officials and what they said about the stadium construction site tells me the pains they went through.
The last but not the least was Hospitality/ Security – The hotels were good for visitors but what a visitor will pass through in the hands of hoodlums and robbers with arms will surely make a person to regret going for the match.
Considering these reasons Rivers state government should do the needful of apologize for this punishment and hardship meted on Nigerians.