Cricket: I am contesting again to finish what we started – Onyeama
*Our election should be issue-based
By Oluwole Francis
Out going president of the Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF), Engineer Emeka Onyeama has declared that he is re-contesting for the office of the president of the body to sustain the laudable programmes he started four years ago.
Onyeama who was optimistic that the 42 delegates to the forthcoming elections into the board would consider the progress of the game in making their choice, said what the former board has done well under his leadership in the period under review.
What we have is enough testament to justify his seeking for a second mandate to enable him to finish what he had started.
Onyeama who spoke in Abuja said he is in the race, to enable him continue with the sustainable development programmes for cricket across the country.
He said based on the infrastructure and structures developed by the board as against what was on ground when they took over, the country and cricket stand to benefit more with the selfless service he has displayed in ensuring the grants from international bodies and private initiatives were effectively utilised for the benefit of the game in Nigeria.
A trend, he said he will not deviate from if re-elected at the polls on the 13th June in Abuja.
He said as a contestant, all he can say was that with the new lease of life injected into the game in the country with the collective support of his board members, the election should be issue-based rather than primordial interests.
“As incumbent president the work you have done should speak for you as one is seeking for re-election and for the other contestants, their manifestos should be their weapon and I know I have done well in my first tenure and I will allow Nigerians to judge me, I am optimistic that the election will be decided on a fair ground,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama said on resumption in office four years ago only 11 states were involved in the game in the country but as at this year, 30 states are actively participating in cricket.
He further said that rather that embark on wild goose chase by emphasising on international competitions, he opted for sustainable development in the country by getting involved with the spread of the game through school sports, one of its major grassroots target.
He said that the game is widely played across primary and secondary schools in the country, this, he noted is unlike in the past where most of the national team players were just picked from the street and barracks.
The out going president also noted that during his stewardship most of the national team players were encouraged to go back to school to acquire the basic education.
Onyeama said that the on-going over 30,000 capacity two cricket ovals construction projects inside the Package B of the Abuja National Stadium is ready for commissioning.
A project, he said was constructed from proceeds from grants from international bodies as well as private initiatives.
He said if voted in for the second term, he would deemphasise open national competitions for male and female teams and ensure clubs, league and schools competitions takes the centre stage.
Onyeama also added that he will decentralise the activities of NCF by making states functional in its programmes.
“When we took over, the federation was not on sustainable plan, we decided to get involved in sustainable development programmes in the country by expending grants from international bodies to provide facilities like the on going two cricket ovals at the Abuja National stadium.
“Grants is for development purpose which we key into and that is why we shall be able to fund states activities in the next four years if re-elected, I don’t just see sports as entertainment but more of business because of the opportunities it creates, if we manage it well it is a veritable source of creating wealth and employment for a lot of youths and I know we will get there with purposeful leadership,” Onyeama said.