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4 years on, proposed Okwaraji mini-sports centre still a dream

4 years on, proposed Okwaraji mini-sports centre still a dream
August 21
12:59 2014

Twenty-five years after Samuel Okwaraji’s demise while playing for Nigeria at the National Stadium in Lagos, his community is asking the government to immortalise him by building a sports centre in his name.

The traditional ruler of Owerre-Umudioka in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State, Eze Edmund Chukwuemeka Nwosu the Okadike 1, told TheCable during a courtesy call on him.

“When Sam Okwaraji died, the government promised heaven and earth. They said they would provide scholarship for his family members, they would take care of his mother, and all sorts. But today, nothing has been done,” the trained pharmacist and football enthusiast said.

“The community proposed a sports complex in honour of Sam in Owerre-Umudioka and wrote the government on our plan and their assistance in actualising the dream.

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“During the time Goodluck Jonathan was acting president, we wrote again and he gave us audience in Abuja. He was represented in the meeting by Pat Ekeji who was a DG in the National Sports Commission. Ekeji told us we had come at the right time because the government was planning to establish six sports centres in the six geopolitical zones of the country.

“He promised us that he would ensure Umudioka was allotted the one coming to the southeast. When we got back, we got a letter of acknowledgment from them. After that, we have not heard from them again.”

Okwaraji Site 2

The site of the centre… growing into a forest

The acknowledged copy was shown to TheCable and it read in parts:

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“The death of the great soccer hero (late Sam Okwaraji) is still very fresh in our minds. The National Sports Commission is very much pleased that you are embarking on a project to immortalise the soccer hero and would ensure that your request is listed in the 2010 budget.”

Four years down the line, the community still awaits the allocation for the project.

“Our zone’s senatorial representative has made further inquiry, but nothing has come out from it,” the Obi Eze continued.

“We have heard – but it’s a rumour – that work has begun somewhere in Owerri for this same project that Ekeji assured us of.”

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Reacting to this, Chief Pat Ekeji said the Eze lied.

“I don’t think the traditional ruler is correct,” he told TheCable from his base in the United States.

“The idea of mini-sports centre was that of the then Sports Committee of the House of Representative. And as a civil servant who knew the limitations of his office, I could not have given such promises.

“I remember the visit during which the chiefs expressed their desire to so immortalise Okwaraji and I offered to support them as much as I could. There has been no more communication ever since.”

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