Thousands of athletes and spectators on Thursday narrowly escaped death following the collapse of a substandard overhead water tank at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, Delta State, during the ongoing 21st African Senior Athletics Championships, tagged ‘Asaba 2018’.
The collapsed water tank, which created panic among the athletes and spectators, left vehicles, wall fence and other things damaged while spectators were seen scampering for their lives.
A Delta State government official, who witnessed the incident, blamed the contractors who handled the project, saying everything done in the stadium was hurried and substandard.
“No good can ever come out of this Delta State government,” he said.
“The state government was in so much hurry to host this championship when all necessary things have not been put in place. All the construction done in the stadium were done with substandard materials, including the collapsed water tank.
“Go round the stadium, you will see it was not completed before they commenced the game on Wednesday. Governor Ifeanyi Okowa agreed to host the championships following the financial gains that would go into their private pockets to use for the forthcoming 2019 general election.
“The 2019 elections and the avenue to amass wealth and loot the state treasury is the reason behind all this rush to host the championships and unfortunately a substandard job was carried out. This is another perfect and smooth avenue to loot the treasury by governor Okowa and his men. Governor Okowa had before now stated that he will need N4 billion to host the championships.
“Some information in tpublic domain, however, suggests that the Governor released the sum of N3.8 billion for the hosting of the game. New cars, including SUVs, were purchased by the local organising committee, which the Governor’s younger brother, Mr. Tony Okowa, is the Vice Chairman of. At the end of the game, these cars will be carted away by the governor’s cronies.”
It would be recalled that the Minister of Sports and Youths Development, Mr. Solomon Dalung was on Wednesday booed by spectators while delivering President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech at the opening of the 21st African Senior Athletics Championships at the stadium.
The opening ceremony, which had over 30 African countries in attendance, was poorly organised despite the release of the sum of N3.8billion to the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Mr. Solomon Ogba, and Tony Okowa, Givernor Okowa’s younger brother.
The multi-billion-naira contract for the construction of the stadium, named after late footballer, Stephen Keshi, was awarded to Ogba, a former President of Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and LOC Chairman, but it could not be completed before the kickoff of the championships.
According to SaharaReporters correspondent who witnessed the opening eventobserved that the Score Board, Fog Lights, the Swimming Pool, interlocking of some parts of the front view of the stadium and other areas remained uncompleted despite promises made by the LOC before the event kicked off.
At the convenience rooms provided by the organisers of the championships, participants and spectators could not find water to flush out the toilet system as the whole place was messed up.
Participants at the championships expressed dismay over the level of work done at the stadium, describing the stadium environment as an eyesore.
“Since May 2017, Governor Okowa inaugurated the Local Organising Committee with Solomon Ogba as the Chairman and Governor Okowa’s younger brother, who doubles as Chairman, Delta State Sports Commission, as the LOC Vice Chairman. But, unfortunately, for good one year plus, they could not organize a flawless event of this magnitude. So what did they use such a huge amount of money released to them for?” a participant complained.
“All the diversion roads in the state capital are so very bad. I was highly disappointed when I took a walk around the stadium and saw the fire brigade approach and substandard construction going on; I wept for my state. Can you imagine, an event which took over a year plus to organise, they couldn’t provide the scoreboard, fog lights even water to flush out toilet systems