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Host communities threaten to disrupt Eagles, Zambia match

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Super Eagles. PHOTO: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

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Barely two days to the much-awaited match between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and Chipolopolo of Zambia, youths of the two communities of Obio Etoi and Obio Ofot hosting the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo have threatened to disrupt the match unless the Akwa Ibom State government fulfilled its part of agreement reached with the people.

Youths from the communities numbering about 200 with different placards alleged that despite the beautiful edifice, the communities were
still unemployed, while the state government has not constructed roads into the communities as the parties agreed before the stadium was built.

With the inscription as, “the stadium is beautiful but the communities are suffering,” some of them, who spoke with The Guardian stressed that after five years of failed promises, they have decided to come out to alert the government of its earlier promises to the communities.

Speaking with journalists, the youth leader of Obio Etoi village, Mr. Sunday Peters, who led the protesters, said since 2011 when Julius Berger commenced work at the stadium the villagers have nothing to show for it.

“The company blocked all diversion ways to the community with their heavy equipment and machines, at a point we had to sell our land to maintain the road. That is why we are crying to the state government and we will continue to cry until something is done.”

According to him, because of “Julius Berger’s action, the communities within the stadium have become flooded as most water ways have been blocked by the equipment of this company.

“All water from the stadium to the retention lake sometime overflows its bank, causing flooding and breeding mosquitoes to residence of the communities.”

The village head of the Obio Etoi, Eteidung Ezekiel Inyang Ekott, said that the youths’ action was not meant to disturb the Super Eagles’ match that is coming to the communities, but to attract government attention to their promises to the communities.

“We want to let the state government know that the Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] entered between the host communities, Julius Berger and the state government has been breached.”

According to the royal father, several letters from his palace to the state government reminding it of the plight of the host communities seems to fall on deaf ears, adding, “Yet when it rains, the entire village will be submerged. We did not collect any compensation from the state government on the understanding that we will get benefit by way of providing roads and drainages around the village.”

He disclosed that government officials have scheduled a meeting with “However, I may not be able to stop them if government did not address the situation.”

The state Commissioner of Works, Mr. Ephraim Inyang, who came to protest venue with Information Commissioner, Mr. Charles Udo, said the road has been earmarked for construction, assuring the youth that a week from now work will commence on the road.

Meanwhile, Super Eagles’ Manager, Gernot Rohr maintains that undermining Zambia will be a huge mistake on his part, saying he can’t predict the scoreline.

Nigeria are confident after a win and a draw against Cameroun last month, whilst coach Wedson Nyirenda led his troops to two wins over the Desert Warriors of Algeria in Group B.

Rohr has admitted that their Southern African visitors will not be a piece of cake for the West Africans.

“I can’t predict the score line against Zambia because it would not be an easy match,” said to Rohr to CAFOnline.

“Zambia can be dangerous because they also have a good team. I don’t think it would be a 4-0 win for us but the most important thing for us is to win even if it’s by one or two goal difference.

“I have seen a lot of videos of the Zambian team and I must confess they are a very good side much better than the team we played last October but we are not afraid.

“We only have to give them respect but we won’t make the mistake Algeria made by underrating Zambia; they have quick strikers but we shall be ready for them.”



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