Akwa Ibom State government has declared that the need to preserve the pitch for sporting activities made it impossible to allow President Muhammadu Buhari to use the Godswill Akpabio Stadium for his campaign rally.
Instead, the president has been directed to use the Uyo Township Stadium.
Compared to the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo Township Stadium has a smaller capacity.
The reason for the denial of the use of the stadium by the state government was given by the state’s Commissioner for Sports, Monday Uko.
He stated that the pitch was being reserved for the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) which starts in January.
He said with the kind of pressure that would be put on the pitch, it would not be possible to “regrass” the stadium for matches already fixed.
His statement reads in part: “In view of this and the fixtures of home matches for Akwa United FC, it will be practically impossible to ‘regrass’ the stadium for pre-fixed matches, if used for non-sports activities, because of the nature of pressure that such events bring on the pitch.
“Additionally, The Maintenance Contractor (Julius Berger) had also advised that the present atmospheric conditions being very hostile to the pitch, the facility should not be used for non-sport activities during this harmattan period, so as to avoid inflicting long-term or irreversible damage to the grass on the football pitch.”
The commissioner added: “The stadium from its inception has been under a maintenance contract with Julius Berger Construction Company. They operate all the sensitive and non-sensitive components of the facility.
“They had closed for the year and proceeded on vacation (as it has been their usual practice) and are due to resume on January 7, 2018. The implication of this is that the technical capacity required to activate the venue is currently unavailable, and this is not within our control.”