It was 3:37 pm when the three presidents arrived. The entire arena was agog with music and dancing. The citizens of Akwa Ibom were in joyous mood. In no time, a sports edifice, constructed with their own funds, would be connected to world sports for international use.
As the sirens blarred that afternoon, it was easy to observe that the 30,000 capacity stadium, filled to the brim, was engulfed with joyous music -making Akwa Ibomites. Everyone of them was standing and dancing.
President Goodluck Jonathan led the convoy of three presidents into the arena. Standing and waving to the joyous crowd, it was clear that he was proud of what was about to happen. Clad in traditional white “jumper,” the president was a delight to watch. As he waved standing, attention was easily drawn to the other gentleman standing with him.
President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana felt so much at home on his right side. So was Alassane Ouattara of Republic of Cote d’Ivoire. Behind them, also similarly attired, was Wilson Akpabio. Akpabio is the governor of Akwa Ibom State, the man whose vision was being authenticated.
Seeing him, the entire stadium went into frenzy! Akpabio had done wonderfully well. And it was not in the habit of the people to hide their feelings.
“He’s our best governor so far,” Uduak Etebong, a staff of the Akwa Ibom Transport Corporation offered. “There is no doubt about it, it will take years for anybody to equate his achievements in our state.”
Etebong’s view was a popular one, for the Uyo International Stadium lent credence to it.
Nowhere in this country has a stadium of such international magnitude sprouted in the past. Governor Tunde Fashola attempted it in Lagos. The Teslim “Thunder” Balogun Stadium is under focus here. But the edifice commissioned at Uyo last weekend stands in its own special class.
The tartan tracks installed in that stadium require special spiking shoes by athletes for training and competition. Those tracks have not been installed in any stadium in this country since Independence. Not even the national stadia.
The playing pitch clearly overshot FIFA requirements! Pinnick Amaju, current President of the Nigeria Football Federation(NFF) attested to this: “I have been in football these years. I have also seen stadia in countries within Africa and outside. None, I repeat, none has come very close to what i am looking at right now.”
Amaju’s sense of judgement did not disappoint him. All over Africa, particularly the North, where football is organized at a very high level, stadium construction has not risen to the level which governor Wilson Akpabio took it.
And the people appreciated it. “Today, we have assembled to activate one of our topmost desires which are the inauguration of the Uyo International Stadium,” President Good Jonathan intoned.
Immediately, the people herded in their approval, clapping and singing to the praise of the Almighty. It was good to belong to victory.
The people easily showed that victory has many fathers; for the way they applauded the stadium, it was clear that of all that Akpabio did, the Uyo International stadium stood out clearly as the best.
The Ghanaian leader did not hide it. Mounting the rostrum, Dramani Mahama told the joyous audience: I don’t think I have anything more than praise for this edifice. Wilson Akpabio has done well. I thank the government of Akwa-Ibom and President Jonathan for the massive work they are doing for the Nigerian people. We have just finished a meeting of the ECOWAS member states where we discussed the problems confronting the region including the Ebola virus. From there, we decided that we must come here to appreciate and thank Akpabio and Jonathan for making life worthwhile for Nigerians. Thank you very much President Goodluck Jonathan. Thank you, Governor Wilson Akpabio.
I also thank you on behalf of our colleague, the president of Cote d’vore who is also here with us.”
Akpabio will remain the pride of his people for a long time with this stadium as a stand point. This is the in thing in Akwa Ibom at the moment.
Nigeria Open Uyo Stadium with Victory over Ghana. Ghana’s national team, the Black Meteors, almost survived fire-works from home based Super Eagles as three president’s officially commissioned the Uyo International Stadium last week.
Playing as part of the official opening ceremonies of the stadium constructed by the Akwa Ibom State government, the Super Eagles home based side humbled the Ghanaian team by a lone goal.
That victory also witnessed the commencement of a regional internal tournament among nations of the West African sub region.
Nigeria’s 1 – 0 victory over Ghana at the opening of the Uyo International stadium meant that Nigeria won the first edition of that tournament.
The trophy was donated by the government of Akwa Ibom state and will be contested for annually.
Uyo is to host the next edition of the tournament next year.