STEPHEN Keshi Stadium: Evidence of Okowa’s Political Will To Deliver Democracy Dividend
By Nkem Osu
LANDMARK achievements are not happenstances. Rather, their fundamental essence stem from an iron-cast determination to actualize set out intents especially, when it involves the well-being of any given society. This, of course requires a meticulously planned outline from inception to fruition.
Such is the case of the Stephen Keshi Stadium Asaba, which had remained a perennial challenge to preceding administrations of in Delta state until the advent of incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
Obviously, the fruition of the Stephen Keshi stadium by Okowa could be adduced to a plethora of reasons more so, as preceding administrations appeared to have consistently prevaricated on prolific and pragmatic approaches toward the completion and inauguration of the stadium project, which had been a sad reminder of failed promises to the electorate.
First of adduced reasons for the completion of the project is the resolute political will which Governor Okowa demonstrated in making the project a reality. There is no gain saying the fact that the absence of unwavering political will, accounts for in the main, numerous uncompleted projects in Nigeria as a whole, thereby littering Nigeria’s landscape with abandoned or “white Elephant” projects, even though such project might have captured in the budget.
Also another reasonable motivation is the desire and commitment to fulfilling his promise on infrastructure development to the electorate. Dithering on the completion of the stadium project would have portrayed governance as taking the governed for a ride.
Ostensibly, Governor Okowa drew inspiration from the time- tested submission of the one-time czar of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin that: “Sometimes, history needs a push”; and the push Okowa gave in making the Stephen Keshi stadium project a reality.
Again, Asaba as the state capital deserves a befitting stadium complex, considering Delta state’s intimidating accomplishments in the world of sports. At the national level, between year 2000 and 2018, Delta state has emerged sixth time champions of the Nigeria National Sports Festival. This, by all configuration is no mean feat. Additionally, in logically analyzing Nigeria’s participation in international sports competitions would be incomplete without a copious mention of Delta state.
It could be argued that Delta state’s success story in sports, may not be directly linked to the presence of a stadium at the state capital. However, for the fact that the headquarters of sports administration in the state domiciled at Asaba the state capital, it follows that for administrative convenience such, a befitting edifice is a condition contingent.
Furthermore, Governor Okowa did not require the knowledge of rocket science to recognize the enormous socio-economic benefits, derivable from the presence of a stadium at Asaba, in view of the fact that (Asaba), borders Onitsha a town in Anambra state renowned for being the commercial nexus of Nigeria and in fact Africa and beyond.
The inauguration of the Stephen Keshi Stadium resonates beyond Nigerian shores. For example, the 1977-1980 Green Eagles emeriti trio of Francis (Monidaho) Monidiafe, Effurun born”Mercurial”Thompson Usiyen and Leotis”Scientific Boat” Boateng, plied their trade with the giant-killing Asaba Textile Mill (Asaba-Tex) football club in the late70s and early 80’s.
Monidiafe, the Agbarhor born defender reside in North Carolina, USA told this writer that he is so enthralled for the simple that he would always have a place to mention as his cradle, he said: I am so delighted when I was told that the final of the 2018 FA Cup soccer competition was played at the Stephen Keshi Stadium. I never envisaged that Asaba could have stadium that sattus.You know Usiyen, Boateng and myself were invited to the Green Eagles during our spell with the defunct Asabatex Football Club. Whoever facilitated the completion of that stadium means well for Deltans”
Beyond partisanship, the Stephen Keshi stadium stands out as a monument that Deltans and Nigerians alike, should appreciate for, it is an exemplary deed as most governments are wont to ‘not fulfilling the promise of immortalizing athletes of great repute. But with this act, Governor Okowa has proven that, where there is ,will, there will always be a way.
I recall with nostalgia how sometime in 2017 late Keshi told this writer that, he was less perturbed by the non-fulfillment of government’s undertaking to name the Asaba stadium after him arising from his accomplishments, because he had experienced so many failed promise by government functionaries.
Undoubtedly, if the dead could see or feel, late Stephen” Bobby Moore” Keshi, who reposes in the great beyond, would be beaming with his charismatically grateful smile to Governor Okowa, for really immortalizing his name in every material particular, by the completion and inauguration of the stadium.
Without mincing words, the completion and inauguration of the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, brings to the fore, the power of strong political will in effective governance, as exhibited by Governor Okowa. Indubitably, this singular act has established that there exists, a tenuous but tangible dissimilarity between a performing and people-oriented governance as typified by Okowa and that of governance that is a direct opposite to the Okowa’s model.
Mkem Osu, a media consultant writes from Lagos.