Protests in team Nigeria’s camps worrisome, says Obisia Nwankpa


A few hours after a board member of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Brown Ebewele predicted that the nation’s track and field athletes may only make up the numbers when hostilities begin in the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, another member of the board, Gabriel Okon has washed his hands off the team’s preparation for the Games.

And former African Boxing Union light welterweight title holder, Obisia Nwankpa, has described as worrisome protests in various camps of Nigerian teams preparing for the Commonwealth Games.

Coach Gabriel Okon beat former AFN Technical Director, Omatseye Nesiama to emerge representative of the South-South region on the AFN board last year. He was part of Nigeria’s delegation to the last IAAF World Athletics Championship in London.

Some major incidents played out in various camps of Team Nigeria during the week, including sudden disappearance of a 400m national athlete, Emmanuel Bamidele from AFN camp in Port Harcourt. Reports suggest that Bamidele, a medal prospect for Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games, may have been lured away by oil-rich nation, Qatar.

While the leadership of the AFN was battling to unearth the circumstances surrounding the sudden disappearance of the athlete, news filtered out that other athletes were planning to boycott training over their unpaid eight-week camp allowances.

There was another discordant tune, this time, from the camp of Nigerian wrestlers, who threatened to boycott the Commonwealth Games over unpaid allowances for various African and international championships.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Coach Gabriel Okon said that he knew nothing about the preparation of athletes for the Games, just as he described as ‘sad’ the sudden disappearance of Emmanuel Bamidele, from AFN camp in Port Harcourt.

“It is so sad that we are trying to bring up athletes for the country and at the same time losing some good ones to other countries. I can’t be part of the team’s preparation for the Games and all these nonsense happening,” Okon stated.

On his part, Coach Obisia Nwankpa, who ruled the boxing light/light welterweight categories from early 1970s to mid ‘90s said: “If it is true that athletes are protesting their unpaid allowance in the various camps, then our preparation for the Commonwealth.

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