Thursday, 17 May 2018

Re: How Liyel Imoke set me up against Hon Asu okang as granted by Sports Commission Chair —by Eugene Upah

Messrs Eugene Upah, Liyel Imoke and Orok Duke
17 May 2018

Before senator Liyel Imoke brought in an American based sports development Consultant, Kimasports in 2009, sports in Cross River State was at an all time low. Infact, Cross River came a distant 25th and 15th position at the 2009 & 2010  national sports festival hosted in Kaduna and Port Harcourt before Liyel's sports revolution kicked off in 2010.

As a sportsman himself, he (lmoke) thought it wise to scout, develop, and enhance the state's chances of becoming a model for other states and putting Cross River on the path of sustainable podium performance amongst Nigeria's elite teams. At the time, the Ministry of youths and Sports development (MOYSD) was headed by Hon Raymond Obeten (now of blessed memory) who was involved in the initial implementation of an athlete centred program - the Cross River State Comprehensive Sports Development Program (CSDP) which eventually produced tremendous results. Two years later on, Hon Obeten passed away and Imoke appointed Hon Patrick Ugbe who improved upon, and consolidated the structures started by his predecessor. My inspiration to lift this article was raised as a lover of sports, and also following an interview granted newsmen few days ago by the Chairman of the Cross River State Sports Commission, Rt Hon Orok Duke. 

Senator Imoke knew (fully) the need to stand down the sports commission board to stop unnecessary infighting (battle for supremacy), between the Commission and the MOYSD to enable technocrats manage sports activities in a descent and uninterfering manner as was practised initially. The Honorable Commissioner was incharge of the commission though technical activities were handled by the Director of Sports who's also a technocrat. He knew the possible implication(s) bringing in a Board comprised of politicians into sports - it wasn't to witchunt anybody, it was for the overall interests of the state and the model worked exceptionally well as the state won national and international accolades under that system. I quite agree that the delay in hosting the 19th National Sports Festival, a right Cross River won in 2012 was due to non compliance of the Contractors handling the Indoor sports complex, the Festival was bade for by Senator Imoke through the Consultant shortly after Lagos hosted the "Eko 2012". 

States leading in sports development in Nigeria; Delta, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Rivers, Ogun, Anambra have at one time or the other engaged the service of a Consultant to manage her sports. 
The Sports Commission Chair opined during his interview that Lagos State operates sports without the MOYSD and l make bold to remind him that a good number of states in Nigeria operates without a commissioned board but via the MOYSD and the results in those states are outstanding. Even President Muhammadu Buhari upon receiving expert counsel scrapped the board of the National Sports Commission in 2015 headed by Alhassan Yakmut and  delegated operations directly to the federal MOYSD instead.

His Excellency, Governor Ben Ayade may not have known the implications of terminating the services of a Consultant in that regard. Setting up a board instead has caused the state more harm than it has favored sports as this is evident in the results since the CSDP was discontinued in 2015. Under that program athletes won laurels for the state locally and internationally, the Obudu Mountain Race was sustained, Cross River State rose up to the age group ladder and was rated the best youths sports program in Nigeria, five program athletes represented Nigeria across the world and several athletes from that program are (still) competing for medals across the globe. Sports management is better off in the hands of Managers manned by a Commissioner from the ministry, Director of Sports and a competent sports development Consultant, not a board made of politicians with no expertise in sports development. If there is any sector in the state that require the service of a consultant after IRS it is sports.

©Eugene Upah
Is a Social Commentator 

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