Chief Solomon Ogba
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
The much-anticipated presidential honour for Team Nigeria’s 4x400m Sydney Olympic gold medallists did not hold as planned Wednesday due to some logistic problems.
The gaily dressed Olympians namely, Enefiok Udo-Obong, Jude Monye, Clement Chukwu, Nduka Awazie, Fidelis Gadzama and Sunday Bada’s widow, Adesumbo, who had arrived the Presidential Villa in Abuja, waiting to be ushered into the Executive Chamber for the event scheduled for 9am, were told to return to their NICON Luxury Hotel for further information.
A mix-up in the programme of the day ensured that the event scheduled to hold before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting was put off till same time next week.
Secretary General of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Tunde Popoola, confirmed to THISDAY that the event was rescheduled because certain loose ends had not been sorted out to warrant President Goodluck Jonathan to honour the six quarter milers who made the country proud in Australia 13 years ago.
The ex athletes, who flew into the country from the United States of America and the United Kingdom, were initially disappointed but later accepted the excuses advanced for the postponement.
“It was good that the event was postponed now till next week to allow those handling the logistics tidy up all loose ends before coming before Mr President to be received,” observed Popoola.
The Director General of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye and President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Chief Solomon Ogba, later held a closed door meeting with the ex athletes to further brief them on the situation.
THISDAY learnt that the NSC accepted to pick the bill of the former athletes’ stay in Abuja till next week while those of them who want to go and see their families were offered returned tickets to go and do so before next Wednesday when they will return to the Villa for the reception.
Ogba on his part, had a separate meeting with the Olympians where he intimated them of programmes of the federation and how they can possibly assist emerging talents achieve their dreams.
A detail level of support, most especially on how to return Nigeria to the summit of the quarter mile in the continent, was expected to be released as at press time Wednesday night.
“We will look at the programmes and see how we can assist the athletics federation,” stressed Udo-Obong Wednesday evening.