Chairman of the Cross River State Football Association, Honorable Essien Ayi, has assessed the current state of football development in Cross River State and concluded that the game “has completely died” in the state.
He made this assessment at an extra-ordinary Congress of the Cross River State Football Association held yesterday in Calabar.
He said “no competition is going on at the U. J. Esuene Stadium. Akwa Ibom State has taken over as preferred destination of the Nigeria Football Federation for world cup qualifying matches and other competitions involving our national teams.”
Honorable Ayi described this situation as “frustrating”, adding that: “Every year, they make budgets and put huge figures as money going to help sponsor the development and sustenance of football in the state, but in the end we see nothing. Every year you go and defend the FA’s budget and then nothing happens in the end. “
He cited greed and corruption as part of factors responsible for the dwindling fortunes of Rovers Football Club of Calabar, one of Nigeria’s most entertaining and popular football clubs in previous eras. According to him, “… we had a painful situation in this state where Lafarge, the cement company here sponsored Calabar Rovers, but those in charge of Rovers then, squandered that opportunity. In fact for all the millions that the cement company gave, the administrators deliberately refused to buy the team a bus, they preferred instead to hire a bus for N600, 000 a trip and in the end we discovered that the bus that was hired, belonged to one of the administrators.”
Honorable Ayi decried that anomaly and appealed to well meaning individuals and the government of Cross River State to invest in football, noting that the fruits of such investment cannot be quantified.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s extra-ordinary Congress was held to ratify a directive from the Nigeria Football Association (NFF) that elections into state Football Associations should be suspended until after the 2019 general elections in the country. Consequently, the tenure of the current board of the Association which was supposed to expire yesterday has been extended to between 26th May and 30th June, 2019.
Honorable Ayi explained that “the extension will give the electoral committee ample time to conduct elections in accordance with the electoral guidelines as entrenched in the statutes.“
Participants at yesterday’s extra-ordinary Congress unanimously lauded Honorable Essien Ayi’s passion for football and hinted that they would reelect him to continue as Chairman of the Board. For instance, a member of the Football Association’s Board, Mr. Godwin Odey, said: “We have been hearing people say that we should have a spirit of sportsmanship. Sports in itself is a unifying factor. So, if we collectively come to you and say ‘please continue’, please continue. Otherwise, you won’t be happy. That passion is natural in you. That is why you still drive the cause to make sure that football doesn’t die in Cross River State.”
Similarly, Mr. Maurice Inok, President of Rovers Football Club Management Committtee, recalled that Honorable Ayi “served diligently” as a Team Manager of Rovers Football Club of Calabar in previous years and took the team to “the highest heights ever in the history of Nigeria. In fact if you remember, he took us to qualify to play in WAFU after beating Abiola Babes with a goal that was the talk of the town for many years.”
He urged Honorable Ayi to continue to “keep faith with the game”.
Honorable Essien Ayi is also a Federal Legislator representing Calabar South, Akpabuyo and Bakassi Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
Facebook: Cornelius Ellah
Photo Credit: www.calitown.com