Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has given an insight into why the Super Eagles have stayed away from Port Harcourt – a city that used to be a favourite ground for the team. The Governor has said that political matters rather than security concerns forced the team to stop playing home games in Port Harcourt.
Eagles have maintained Uyo, also in the South-south end of the country as their base after venturing to Kaduna in the northern part in the heat of the Boko Haram terrorists attacks.
Wike who had journalists in Port Harcourt on Monday night, said Port Harcourt, said the problem started after he turned down a very late request from the Nigeria Football Federation to use the base and that gap was capitalised upon by political opponents to ensure the team never returned.
He said, “The problem started when the NFF came to me, less than a week before a crucial match to ask that they wanted the game in Port Harcourt. As at that time I had approved the same venue to Pastor W.F Kumuyi’s Deeper Life Church for a Crusade and it was not something I was going to alter even if the NFF was under pressure. We had to respect the agreement with Kumuyi because the arrangement was made months earlier and we had to keep to our honour.
“But I didn’t just say no to the NFF and abandoned them because I immediately reached out to my brother and friend in Akwa Ibom for the game to be played there, of which he accepted and the match was played there.
“After that some authorities in Abuja called the NFF President (Amaju) Pinnick and said he was fraternizing with the opposition and since then Port Harcourt has become a bad venue to play because of queer politics.”
And stressed that he does not hold the NFF leadership responsible for not returning to Port Harcourt and urged all concerned in sporting activities to make decisions free of political thinking.
“ But I am sure that soon, the national team will be back, playing their games and qualifying for all tournaments here.”