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Protest over non-payment of wages rattles Okowa


Nigeria’s team celebrate winnning the women’s 4x400m relay of the African Athletics Championships at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta State in midwestern Nigeria, on August 5, 2018. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

• Team Delta Flops At NYG Zonal Elimination

A protest during the week by hundreds of menial workers and private security guards over non-payment of their wages by the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the just concluded 21st African Senior Athletics Championship, Asaba 2018, is said to be giving Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, a sleepless night.

Two days after the championship ended at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, the protesters stormed the streets of Asaba, over their unpaid salaries and alleged maltreatment by the LOC. They blocked the Nnebisi road leading to the stadium to express their displeasure, chanting songs of disenchantment and rained abuses on the organisers over their ill-treatment.

The Guardian learnt yesterday that Okowa was sad over the development, and has summoned some top officials of the LOC for a meeting to explain what happened to money earmarked for the purpose. The governor had said during a fundraising dinner held in Asaba before the championship that his government would spend about N4 billion in hosting the competition. The money, he said, includes logistics.

While the protest was going on in Asaba on Tuesday, a contingent of 250 athletes and officials of Team Delta left the state capital for the 4th National Youth Games South-South Zonal Elimination in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.It has turned out to be a horrible journey for Team Delta, which is preparing to defend its NYG title next month in Ilorin, Kwara State.

The Zonal elimination ended in Uyo on Thursday, but Team Delta failed to qualify in five major sports, basketball (male and female), cricket (male and female), football (male and female), handball (male and female) and volleyball (male and female). In the male football event, Team Delta was humiliated 5-0 by the host, Akwa Ibom, in a match that saw Delta reduced to eight players.

It was learnt that Delta started the match with only nine players after nine of them were screened out due to over-aged.Delta was able to pick slots in Beach Volleyball, Hockey and Rugby following inability of other states to present a team in those sports.Some of the players who spoke with The Guardian blamed the situation on poor arrangement by the Sports Commission headed by Tony Okowa. “We arrived Uyo around 11pm, and the athletes and officials slept inside buses because it was already 2pm before we could sought out things. And it was not possible to get hotel for a contingent of about 250 persons at that time.”

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Asaba 2018Ifeanyi Okowa.
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