1st CAC Olympic Qualifier In Nigeria : Porbeni Decries Delay Of Boats At Nigeria Ports

 

Admiral Festus Porbeni, the President of Nigeria Rowing, Canoe and Sailing Federation has decried the “unnecessary” delay of the boats meant for the 1st Olympic Qualifying tournament in the country at the Nigerian ports.

The 1st Canoe Olympic Qualifier is scheduled to hold from Wednesday to Sunday in Abuja with 16 African countries expected to participate.

Porbeni however told newsmen that the boats which are expected to be used for the tournament were yet to arrive in Abuja as they have been unduly held by officers of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

“As I speak to you, our equipments are still been held up at the ports, even though the Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs has instructed them to be released to us.

“But somebody felt ‘since Admiral Porbeni is involved, there must be guns in those boats’ and ordered them to be brought down for inspection.

“So, the boats have been laying there in the ports since on Friday. Here we are, we have no boats for a tournament expected to start on Wednesday.

“This is despite the fact that the International Canoe Federation chose to give them to us free of charge to use for the tournament,” he said.

He also recalled how some boats earlier sent by the International Canoe Federation were also held at the Nigerian ports for 11 years before he came on board as the president of the federation.

He noted that the non-availability of boats for the federation’s athletes to practice had to a large extent hampered the growth and development of the sports in the country.

“Before I came on board, in all the international competitions we participated in Tunisia and other countries we were always finishing in the last position, because we had no boats.

“Our athletes were only been taught the theoretical part of the sport without the equipment to practice.

“I was very upset about the situation and had to come to the country and insisted that the boats must be released to us.

“We rallied round and met with the relevant authorities, including Customs and had to pay a demurrage of about N1 million before the boats were finally released to us.

“That was when we began to record some successes in the federation as our athletes won silver in Maputo, followed by four goals in Rabat.

“So, you can see that the talents abound in the country but without the necessary equipment and facilities to practice we cannot make progress.

“So, I am appealing to you all in the media to help us cry on our behalf. How can a container full of boats given to you free of charge still be lying at the ports up till now for God sake?

“The Minister of Sports, the CG Customs as well as the Minister of Finance have all been pleading on our behalf.

“But somebody somewhere is hell bent on frustrating us and has been given us sleepless nights.

“This is an embarrassment for the nation and we the organisers and especially to the President, Confederation of Africa Canoe, Joao Manuel Da Costa Alegre Afonso who has been here and has supported us so much.

“This is so bad and makes us look so disorganised. Now that individual who felt that he/she has done her job is trying to ruin the whole nation’s reputation,” he said.

He also called on well meaning individuals, philanthropists as well as private and corporate organisations to come on board and help sponsor the event, adding that government cannot do it alone now.

The President, Confederation of Africa Canoe, Joao Manuel Da Costa Alegre Afonso said a total of six events were to be competed for by the 16 participating countries, adding that only the gold medalists from each of the event would qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

“The participating countries include; hosts Nigeria, Algeria, Angola , Djibouti, Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, São Tomé, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda.”

“They will be competing in the 100m, 500m, 1000m in Canoe and Kayak events.

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