Asaba 2023: Heads to roll over shabby treatment of athletes, embarrassment

* Oyebanji receives athletes, apologises, assures of better deal for sports

By John Odunjo

Ekiti State Governor Biodun Oyebanji has given hint that heads would roll in the state Sports Council over the poor treatment meted to the athletes from the state who participated in the just concluded National Youths Games in Asaba, Delta State.

Oyebanji, who described the happening at the meet where the athletes were poorly kitted as embarrassment to the athletes, their parents, state and Ekiti people at home and in the diasporas, however, apologised to all concerned.

Recall that Ekiti State athletes were kitted in all sorts of unbefitting wears during the opening march past for the wears, an embarrassing situation which went viral and attracted criticisms.

The governor spoke at the Governor’s Office Conference Hall while playing host to the Ekiti athletes and their coaches on Wednesday.

The athletes, described as Ekiti Ambassadors, won a total of seven medals comprising two gold medals, two silver medals and three bronze medals at the games, were all smiles and hailed the governor for his kind gesture.

Addressing the athletes, Oyebanji said, “I apologise for the inappropriate behaviour of the officials of the council. As a government, we tried to provide for you, but the officials behaved inappropriately for reasons best known to them.

“As a government, we take responsibility. I apologise to all Ekiti people, to you and to your parents. I am deeply sorry, I am deeply sorry, I am deeply sorry. I can assure you justice will be served appropriately”.

The governor said that in line with the extant rules of the civil service, he had instructed the Head of Service to begin necessary action towards sanctions for anybody involved in the matter to serve as deterrent to others.

Oyebanji told the athletes, “I have so many photographs on my phone, I know you were not well fed there. I have photos of where you slept, but I thank God it happened. If it had not happened, we would not have paid attention to you.

“In adversities, there are lessons. What happened has strengthened our resolve to reposition sports in the state”, the governor said, adding that the bill for the establishment of Sports Commission recently signed by the state House of Assembly would in passed within the next weeks.

He said, “We are going to pay special attention to sports and the vehicle we are going to use is the Sports Commission.

“By next year, we are going to have functional Indoor Sports Centre. We will work on our stadia, starting from the stadium in Ado Ekiti, the state capital. The emphasis will not be on football alone, but we will go through the value chain”.

The governor, who said sports had gone scientific, advised the youth athletes to be diligent in their studies.

He assured, ” We are going to support you. We will give you support, infrastructures, coaching and as well expose you to the world. Our goal is to produce world champions among you.

“Take it serious, see it as business. The future is bright even for those did not win medal at the event. I am so excited to see you here”.

The governor assured the coaches, “As we pay attention to the athletes, we are going to pay attention to the coaches, we will expose you as well”.

Oyebanji told the athletes and coaches that they would get cash rewards.

He appealed to corporate organisations to adopt and support the athletes for encouragement and development.

The governor, who said that he received over 1000 messages when the kitting scandal in Asaba broke out, thanked the Commissioner for Finance, Akin Oyebode and  Senior Special Assistant on Community Communications, Mrs Mary Oso, for rising quickly to the occasion.

He also hailed his wife, Dr Olayemi Oyebanji and wife of former governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, for their intervention and invaluable contributions towards coming to the aid of the athletes while in Asaba.

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