National disgrace as African Athletic Championship in Asaba flops


There are a few things that surprise Nigerians and administrative incompetence is not one of them – it has even become a norm. However, what baffles me is when this ‘norm’, this so-called ‘Naija behaviour’ rears its ugly head in international events – ultimately showcasing our shame for the world to see.

The latest part of a series of epic woes and failure is the 21st African Athletic Championship in Asaba, Delta scheduled for the 1st to 5th August 2018. Here is the thing, the tournament was billed for disaster from the off. Why? Logistics were not properly settled before the games. The Asaba airport is reported to have only three airlines on its air route and with athletes coming from across Africa – there was bound to be issues. Let us not even begin to talk about the roads to Asaba.

The lack of proper planning has ensured that athletes that were meant to compete in the Championship were stranded in the airport with their luggage – a very humiliating sight for the organisers, Delta State Government and Nigerians. The Kenyan team arrived in Lagos on Monday but could not leave for Asaba till Wednesday, the day the event was to start.

Some of the athletes complained about visa issues as they were not granted visas on entry in Lagos and the Women’s 100-metre race event had to be postponed – what a real mess. The Tanzanian party have thrown the towel on the Championship already, and a statement released by the Tanzanian athletic secretary Wilhelm Gidabuday stated that team had to back out due to visa problems.

Gidabuday said, “The organisers of the African championship acted too late in sending the invitation letters, and they also failed to assure us that we would get visas on arrival in Nigeria.”

The immigration letters that would have guaranteed the athletes visa on arrival arrived a day before the event and they were sent via WhatsApp and not email, really??? Therefore, he decided to pull out after seeing what the Kenyans had gone through.

The Kenyan Sports Ministry also had some strong words for the organisers and stated that it will petition the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) and the Confederations of African Athletics (CAA).

Kenya’s Chief Administrative Secretary of Sports, Hassan Noor Hassan spoke the words right off everybody lips by stating “It is beyond our comprehension why Asaba was given the rights to host an event of this calibre without putting into consideration the logistics around the connecting flights. As a country, we are disappointed we have to go through this kind of treatment, and we intend to petition the IAAF and the CAA over this kind of confusion.”

Chief Solomon Ogba, the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) stated that the Tanzanian’s confirmed participation to the event late and it affected their ability to make necessary preparations. Nigeria’s Sports Minister, Barrister Solomon Dalung, however, stated he was displeased by the reports he was hearing about the ill-preparedness of the LOC by the participating countries.

According to him, organisers had assured the Ministry that proper travel and hotel accommodations were made.

The Championship will end on Sunday, and the organisers have stepped-up their game after heavy criticism. However this just shows that Nigeria is not ready to host anything of real significance – at least, not yet.

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