• Senator Ogba stages one-man protest as IfeanyiUbah FC wins Charity Cup on bald turf
The much advertised Charity Cup match between Federation Cup winners, IfeanyiUbah FC and Nigeria Professional Football League champions, Rangers International FC of Enugu yesterday was overshadowed by the sorry state of the Abuja National Stadium mainbowl pitch that hosted the tie.
The match which was to officially kick-start the new NPFLseason of turned out to be an advertisement of the country’s poor management of monuments. The multi billion naira Abuja edify that hosted the 8th All-Africa Games in 2003 now a shadow of itself.
The state of the pitch, which ordinarily should not have staged a match of that magnitude, led to the Chairman of Senate Committee on Sports, Senator Obinna Ogba to abandon the VIP stand and opted to seat among the fans in the stands.
Some senior management staff of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) tried in vain to parley him not to hit up the polity with his movement to the popular stand.
THISDAY checks revealed that the zero budget of the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, for the maintenance of the facility may have been responsible for why the entire complex, including the football pitch is in its present sorry state.
The Abuja National Stadium which was one of the best facilities on the African continent as at the time it was built has become a ghost of itself with dangerous reptiles and weed taking over the whole complex.
Sadly, Sports Ministry staff whose offices are inside the complex have abandoned their offices for fear of being bitten by snakes and scorpions which crawl all over the premises.
In the 2016 budget, N83,416,015,167 billion was budgeted for the Youth and Sports Ministry, the youth department which takes care of National Youth Service Corps and the Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre (CLTC) took substantial part of the budget with a whopping N74,007, 622,305 billion (NYSC-N72,875, 300,832billion and CLTC N1,132,321,473billion). The ministry’s headquarters was expected to get N7,762,617,332 billion being the total for its recurrent and capital expenditures.
The NFF was expected to receive N1,149,250,310 billion while the National Institute for Sports (N.I.S.) received N496,525,218 million. The budget did not mention any fund disbursement to all the 26 national sports federation many of whom are in comatose.
The sports federations comprising about 26 sports were similarly not given any fund in 2016.
Meanwhile, 10-man FC IfeanyiUbah yesterday clinched the Charity Cup after they beat a disappointing Rangers 4-3 on penalties after both teams failed to score within regulation time.
Rangers new signing, Daniel Etor and Godwin Aguda, tormented the FC Ifeanyi Ubah defence at the start of this encounter inside an almost empty stadium.
In the 33rd minute, Ghanaian defender of Ifeanyi Ubah, Kojo Bah was sent off after his second booking for a late tackle.
The Nnewi outfit suffered further setback when captain Olamilakan Adeleye was forced by injury to give way to Stephen Eze.
Both teams struggled to thread passes on the bumpy pitch as the first half ended without neither side getting on the scoreboard.
Despite their numerical advantage, the Flying Antelopes were disappointing with ‘The Anambra Warriors’ the more enterprising team.
Rangers introduced Ocheme Edoh for Etor late in the contest, but they still failed to break down their opponents forcing the game to be decided on penalties.