Ebonyi’s moves to improve IGR through sports
.. The reconstructed ultra modern Abakaliki Township Stadium
By Felix Uka, Abakaliki
With the economic crunch occasioned by the recession, most succeeding governments both at the state and local government tiers have engaged in ventures that could perk up their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
Ebonyi State government has done much in this regard through its aggressive rice farming and stake in empowerment of the youth and widows, who are encouraged to be independently employed.
As laudable as that could be there appears to be loss of sight as to how much the state could generate through some other underlying sub-sectors.
Indeed, the busiest spot in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi state capital, is the Abakaliki Township Stadium, recently renamed Ngele Oruta Township Stadium .
Before 6.00am, the stadium and its environs are filled with people. Most of the guests to the facility are the political bigwigs in the state including the House of Assembly members and their officials, lawyers, men and women from various strata and sections of the society.
Majorly, they converge there for keep fit exercises and probably some other sundry social engagements.
During the weekends, churches take over the arena, hold crusades. As luck would have it, Governor David Umahi on assumption of office took special interest in the facility, and turned it into ultra modern stadium that can compare with no other one in the South East
The stadium of over 10,000 seat capacity, with five lead score boards now has air-conditioned VIP section, equipped with 24 state-of-the-art toilet facilities which are connected to 50,000 litre overhead tank.
The VIP section is best fit for occasions
including conferences, wedding and sundry indoor events, more so as it has 350 KVA and 500KVA standby electricity generators.
Obviously to position the stadium for economic independence, a two-storey guest house of the standard of a high brow hotel is nearing completion within the stadium complex, while the 54 shops under the basement of the complex has been reconstructed.
Ironically, the state’s Ministry of Youth and Sports has traditionally been perceived as a poor ministry of which appointment as a Commissioner into the office had before now been less celebrated.
But for the incumbent Commissioner in the ministry, the Anambra State born Charles Akpu-Enika, the ministry is as juicy as any other. On assumption of office, he invested his personal money in the painting and beautification of the stadium until Governor Umahi looked his way.
Now, virtually all walls in the Abakaliki City Centre have been beautified with paintings through the ministry.
As is common with men of uncommon faith, the state government, recently at its executive council meeting approved the lease of the stadium to competent managers who would through the venture impact positively on the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state government.
The Youth and Sports Commissioner, Akpu-Enika said that the approval for the lease of the stadium was the best thing to have happened.
He explained that they were already in search of renowned managers, stressing that with the quantum and quality of facilities in the stadium any resourceful manger would make fortunes from the venture.
He said that government has hardly been good mangers of business for which reason the lease was the best option but stressed that the ministry, as the overseer, would ensure steady maintenance of the facilities by the mangers.
“Abakaliki is still a virgin land to be explored in various sectors especially in the hospitality industry and the stadium presents all you need to gear up to that,” he said.