Nigeria has become the butt of jokes and ridicule among other African nations following the hitches, disorganisation that have characterised the 21st Africa Athletics championships tagged ‘Asaba 2018’ which began on Wednesday despite a two year window offered the country to prepare for the championships.
The President of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA), Colonel Hamad Malboum Kalkaba had on several occasions told the world how the Local Organising Committee, led by Solomon Ogba had put in place every resources at their disposal to host Africa for the second time.
On Monday while speaking to journalists had said that the ‘few places still being perfected’ will be ready ahead of the opening ceremony.
The first time Nigeria hosted the African Championships was in 1989, at the National Stadium in Lagos, and it was the sixth edition of the event.
According to various reports coming in from the 22,000 capacity Stephen Keshi stadium, as at 10:00am on Wednesday, delegations and journalists were eagerly waiting for the start lists of the day one competition.
With the magnitude of such event, the floodlights of the stadium were said to be non-functional as at the time of writing this report.
Hundreds of athletes scheduled to participate at were crying foul after being stranded at the Lagos Airport.
Usher Komugisha, a renowned sports journalist from Uganda tweeted pictures of a stranded Ugandan team and a video of a Moroccan high jumper, who were lamenting that they have been stranded in Lagos for at least two days.
‘‘Nigeria has done a very POOR job with the organization of flights! Look at Team Uganda,’‘ Komugisha tweeted.
Athletics Kenya (AK) President Jack Tuwei told journalists: “sad indeed. We have tried with the Local Organising Committee here in Asaba with a lot of frustrations and lack of decision. The competition delegate seems to have given up. Now the case has been presented to the CAA Council.”
There were rumours among the athletes that Nigeria was dirty tricks on them and have urged the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to carry out major investigations.
As at Tuesday, 11 nations got stranded in Lagos at the same time, including South Africa, Egypt Burkina Faso, Kenya and Botswana with the competition scheduled to start the following day.
According to reports, the Kenyan team had a first batch of 22 athletes, one third of the party, finally departed Lagos for Asaba at about 4pm Tuesday after a 24-hour wait. Upon their arrival, the team had delays in getting their accreditation papers sorted out and in the process missed their scheduled warm up sessions.
The protocol team led by Chief Falilat Ogunkoya failed to ensure all athletes got to Asaba as at when due, rather they slept in the Lagos International Airport for 3 days.
It was reported that the Ethiopian delegation was contemplating on providing for themselves alternative route that would see them travel on a scheduled flight to Enugu and then connect via a two-hour road journey to Asaba on their own bill.
Also, the opening ceremony which was supposed to start by 9am was shifted to 5:30pm with journalists across the country having difficulty getting their accreditation tags.
In the usual fire-brigade approach of officials, chartered flights were organised but were unable to meet demand with luggage either lost or misplaced in the ensuing melee. Even Nigerian athletes who are supposedly the hosts, had their share of the pains and troubles.
Close to 52 countries are expected to feature in the event that would end on August 5.
South Africa are the defending champions of the African Senior Athletics having hosted and won the last edition on home soil in Durban.