Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa has revealed how he took the risk to host the 21st African Senior Athletics Championship, Asaba 2018, which ended yesterday in the state capital.
Okowa, who spoke at the Merit Award ceremony orgnaised by the Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC) in Asaba on Saturday night, said he thought that hosting the championship would be an impossible mission for the state considering the poor state of the Stephen Keshi Stadium when the hosting right was awarded in 2016.
The hosting right for the 2018 African Senior Athletics Championship was first awarded to Lagos State in 2016 during the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon event, which the President of CAA, Hamad Kalkaba Malboum, attended.
But when the flag was presented at the last edition of the championship in Durban, South Africa, nobody from Lagos State was on ground to receive it.
The CAA boss then turned to Chief Solomon Ogba, who was then President of the AFN.
To save the country from international embarrassment, Ogba quickly consulted with Governor Okowa on the need to host the event. The Governor accepted.
“By the time the letter from CAA came to us in June 2016, and we visited the Stadium to look at the level of work to be done, I was really afraid,” Okowa said. “But Solomon Ogba told me he believed we could do it.
We started working on the stadium, and I must commend the Local Organising Committee (LOC), particularly the chairman (Ogba) for the good work they did.
I am sorry for putting them under pressure, but that is the kind of person I am,” Okowa stated.
The governor used the opportunity to speak on his plan for primary and secondary school sports in the state.