Power struggle in Abia and Enyimba Int’l Stadium

By Daily Sports on February 13, 2017

Views: 22,230

Head or tail, this is the genesis. It has snowballed into the sports arena, and how Governor Okezie Ikpeazu swiftly acted shows that things are not normal in Abia State. The God’s Own State is in dilemma largely due to class and quest for political power struggle among the elites from the state.

Without any prejudice, the state has been obviously misruled by successive regimes and I will on my own assessment single out the eventful but short lived administration of Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu as the best that ever happened to the state.

However, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu’s government is what I will describe as work in progress administration.

Let me be honest with you and without any equivocation that I have much sympathy for Governor Ikpeazu’s administration. He is fighting many ‘court wars’ from opponents that either failed party primaries or the gubernatorial election. It has been a season of conflicting Court judgments on the April 2015 governorship election.

Those that are bent on removing him are still at work. Such actions and inactions no doubt have taken a huge toll on the state’s finances and it is not really what Abians bargained for.

I’ve severally described such as an ill wind that at the end of the day would blow nobody any good. Abia State needs peace and stability for governance to thrive. I’m not the spokesperson of Governor Ikpazu’s administration, but as an Abian I’m definitely feeling the pinch, I have witnessed this kind of turbulent water the Governor finds himself in.

A recap, during the short lived democracy under late General Sani Abacha, Chief Uche Mpamah, was elected Chairman of Ikwuano Local Government Council, his opponent then late Onyebuchi Ibenacha aka Agunaechemba of Ibere vowed to oust the Chairman, when it became impossible, he devised other means which left Ikwuano the worst for it. Mpamah, a green horn then in Abia and Ikwuano political terrain, however, was surrounded by experienced heavy weights. It was ensure he guided his seat but there was no development in the Local Government until the administration was truncated. I’m from the Local Council.

For instance, revenue allocation was entirely channeled into the court case and sundry; Councilors, workers, contractors and others were owed years of backlog of salaries. It is not what you would wish any state or it components to witness because state resources are wasted on such senseless adventures. Ikwuano and provision of infrastructures suffered and if it has overcome that, it was yesterday. You don’t wish it, because it is locusts. That is what is sadly happening in our dear State today and the man on the saddle is waging these wars from all fronts. The Supreme Court in its last pronouncement granted that APGA guber candidate, Dr. Alex Otti, is free to join forces with Mr. Uche Ogar, another PDP aspirant who lost at the primary election. The highest court in the land has helped to fuel the crisis.

Let me confess that this is not what we need in Abia State for now. Fact is whether it is agreed upon or not the state’s resources are poured into this senseless court election battles thereby short changing the people’s democratic dividends.

As I did narrate above, there is no how the incumbent would fold his hands and watch those that obviously lost the election either at the party primaries or at the election proper, to overnight wrestle power. It never happens. More so, as it is being alleged that one of the agitators is being sponsored by APC to wrestle power on PDP platform and later defect to APC. Ikwuano Local Government was an example of avoidable political power struggle where monies meant for development were paid to Lawyers as legal fees. And they ran into millions of Naira. Since 2019 is almost here, Dr. Otti and Ogar should wait and spare the good people of the state these troubles. Governor Ikpeazu needs absolute concentration. Abia needs tranquility. My take is that former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu should not heat up Abia with political violence which is alien to the state.

Chief Uche Mpamah who has grown into being a dogged fight is alive to further tell the story of  how Ikwuano under his watch fared during and after the needless power struggle. I guess, now that his political godfather, Orji Uzor Kalu jumped into APC, he may have joined him. It is my belief that Governor Ikpeazu’s government has a solid road map for the development of the state that former Governor T.A. Orji balkanised for eight years. Now these people are not giving the government breathing space to think out of the box.

You see, the state is so divided along party lines that there are lots of suspicions in every move or action taken. You are probably aware that the state is the owner of the most successful football club in the country, Enyimba International FC of Aba. Orji Uzor Kalu engineered the success story; the club won back to back, prestigious CAF Champs League 2003 and 2004 being the only Nigerian club side to do so after many years of fruitless attempts. It was a laudable effort, but the Orji, Anyansi Agwu and their cohorts mismanaged the huge success of the team. All the goodwill, moneys that accrued to the team and the top players the team paraded were sold without it being invested back into it.

Instead of developing a brand new football village fitted with modern day games facilities, a township stadium inside the market was developed. However, if you know how much was sunk into it, those that conspired to defraud the state with that project deserve execution. But they are walking freely enjoying their loot. In short, Felix Anyansi Agwu is still in charge of Enyimba International FC.

Enyimba did not play its home games in Aba last season and that affected its performance both at the CAF Champs League and NPFL campaign where it recorded the worst outing in over ten years.

This season, it left Port Harcourt to UJ Esuene Stadium in Calabar where it plays its home games. New twists developed, and Daily Sports was on top of the whole drama. In one breathe, a contractor accused Abia State government of not in a hurry to complete the stadium, after Sports Commissioner, Chief Chinwe Nwangaga goofed. Pronto, Ebi Egbe, Director, MoniMichelle Sports Facilities Construction Limited, put a lie to Nwanganga’s falsehood.

I became nervous after reading the report from our man in Umuahia. That my momentary state of the mind came in two folds, one Nwanganga was chairman of Enyimba FC, two, he has presided over Ugwunagbo Local Government Council and now a Commissioner. By good measure of standard, he is on ground and is not supposed to call white, black no matter whose ox is gored.

Let’s read these together: “Abia not in a hurry to complete renovation of Enyimba Stadium,” the contractor says.

“Indications have emerged that Abia State Government is not in a hurry to complete the Enyimba International Stadium in Aba currently being upgraded to a 26,000 capacity stadium, despite its claim that plans were ongoing for the completion.

“Mr. Ebi Egbe, Director, MoniMichelle Sports Facilities Construction Limited, the contractors handling the stadium said in an interview Friday that Abia government has not shown interest in completing the stadium as soon as possible to enable players of Enyimba International Football Club to resume play on their home soil.

“Enyimba currently plays home matches at the U.J Esuene Stadium, Calabar, Cross River State as a result of the on-going upgrading of the stadium.

“Abia State Sports Commissioner, Chief Chinwe Nwanganga, recently in Umuahia during an interactive forum to mark 50 years anniversary of Sports Writers’ Association of Nigeria (SWAN), told members of the Abia State Chapter that arrangements were on to complete the reconstruction work of the stadium.

“But Egbe disputed the claim, saying: ‘My brother nothing is happening. The Abia State government is not serious about the completion of Enyimba Stadium’.

“Egbe said he was in the state for talks with the government over the completion of the stadium two weeks earlier but was disappointed as the promises made to him were not fulfilled. He said he was offered only N1.6 million to continue work, adding that materials needed for the work are to be imported.

“I have been going to Umuahia every week to meet them. What I get is one story today and another story tomorrow, my brother, I am tired,” he said.

“During my last visit, they said they wanted to

give me N1.6 million. I told them that the money cannot complete the job and that they should keep it when they have enough to do the work they should call me.

“It is not that I did not appreciate the money, I want to complete that job. I do not want a situation where they will give me N1 today and it will take another four years before they can pay the rest. I don’t work like that,” he said.

“Egbe said that in the last one month, the Abia State government has not contacted him, even as he alleged that the Finance and Sports Commissioners no longer pick his calls.

“He said the non-functioning of Enyimba Stadium was not only inconveniencing the club and their supporters, it was equally depriving the state of revenue.

“If they know what the Aba people are going through for not having that stadium ready, they will quickly fix the stadium and bring Enyimba back home.

“When you play your matches outside your home grounds, you will spend a minimum of N1 million which will go into payment for stadium, security, transportation and accommodation.

“They pay between N1 million and N2 million everyday Enyimba plays away match,” Egbe said.

“If the stadium had been put in order, it would have generated a lot of money for Abia state government. Do you know how much money the state has lost since the stadium work started? If they could complete that stadium with 26,000 capacity, that is a very good source of Internally Generated Revenue for the state,” he said.

“Egbe warned that delaying the project would inflate the cost because the job depends much on imported materials.

“A project that could cost you ten Naira today, if you delay it for three years, when you come back to it, it will now cost you N50.

“Our job is 90 percent import-based. I started that job when the Euro was the equivalent of N272.00 but today it is N520.00 and that will impact on the final cost of the job,” he added.

There seems to be a looming politically motivated protest in the horizon why the Enyimba Stadium is yet to be completed but Felix Anyansi Agwu has vehemently dismissed the speculation. Hear this report: ‘Anyansi Dismisses Protest Speculation’:

“Enyimba Chairman, Felix Anyansi-Agwu, has condemned reports that supporters of the club are gearing up for protests in Aba over non-completion of work in the stadium.”

The report claimed that supporters of the club under the aegis of concerned Enyimba supporters have concluded plans to march round Aba to demand the immediate completion of the rehabilitation work in the stadium.

Speaking in Calabar after Enyimba’s 1-0 win over Akwa United in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) on Thursday, Anyansi Agwu labeled the report as ‘misleading and shameful’.

“These are untrue reports. Very untrue, very misleading and very shameful. There are no such plans by supporters of the club. To protest what? As far as I believe there is a genuine attempt by the Executive Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu led administration to develop Enyimba’s infrastructure and make us more competitive, so it puzzles me how a story like this can be cooked up.

“Our supporters held no meetings planning a protest; neither did they contact anyone to protest on their behalf.

“Our supporters just left Calabar now in a triumphant spirit after our victory here and are planning to travel to Minna to cheer the team in our next game, so who is protesting?”

A reprieve came thus: ‘Work to resume at Enyimba Stadium.'

“Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has directed immediate release of additional funds to the contractor handling the resurfacing and renovation of the Enyimba International Sports Stadium at Aba.

“This is with a view to quickly returning Enyimba FC of Aba to their home stadium, Enyinnaya Appolos, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, said in a statement issued on Friday in Umuahia.

“He said that “following the latest payment released to the contractor, the state has paid over 70% of the total contract sum. Work is therefore expected to accelerate at the stadium with completion expected within this year, to enable the Peoples’ Elephant resume playing at home in Aba.”

Enyimba FC of Aba is Nigeria’s most successful football club with two back to back champions’ league trophies and multiple local league and FA trophies.

In God’s hands, we trust the travails of Abia State. I’m so concerned about this crisis of who governs the state because. There are no roads to transport farm crops by my people in Ikwuano and her cocoa produce because funds that ought to be used for roads construction and sundry are being spent on numerous court cases. I support all steps by the Governor to defend his mandate. I’ll do more if I am in his present shoes. It’s only his detractors’ that would see everything wrong in his resolve to pursue his mandate to a logical conclusion. He did not take himself to courts to contest his election. Enyimba is our rallying point. Wait for a write up on how chairmanship of state owned football teams have been personalised. Discussion continues. Keep shooting hard. Till next week!

Source Daily Sports

Posted February 13, 2017

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