Posted by THE GUARDIAN on
AN apparently elated President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday wrote commendation letters to Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Dr. Amos Adamu and Dr. Albert Ikomi over the conduct and conclusion of the All Africa Games, which ended in Abuja at the weekend.
However, Artistic Consultant to the Organising Committee for the Game (COJA), Professor Wole Soyinka, at a press conference yesterday, picked holes in the organisation of the fiesta.
He vowed never to take part in any such exercise again.
Soyinka had resigned his position before the fiesta took off.
Commending the trio on the success of the fiesta, Obasanjo asked Adamu (Executive Director/CEO of the 8th All Africa Games Secretariat), to collate and render all accounts of the games, without delay and in the spirit of accountability and transparency.
He also directed Adamu to ensure that only contracts and amounts certified by the Due Process are paid.
In the letters released in Abuja yesterday, the President told Adamu: "Now that the games are over, in the true spirit of this government's commitment to accountability, due process and transparency, I urge you to collate and render full accounts in all respects without delay.
"This is essential to avoid undue distractions over the finances, properties, equipment, materials and items to enable us move forward on related matters."
Obasanjo then directed: "On no account will you pay for any service, supply or contractor more than stipulated by due process and only on completion".
On the economic impact of the games, he asked for information on the visitor's spending, which the nation's economy has enjoyed from the two-week event.
President Obasanjo saluted "the single-minded patriotism of various individuals, groups and institutions. These include administrators, officials, athletes, sponsors, school children, volunteers, artistes and several others."
To Dr. Ikomi (chairman, Task Force on the Construction of the National Stadium), he demanded that the task force should move ahead immediately, and complete all outstanding work on the Games Village.
He also asked that the Task Force should forward to him, as soon as possible, their "recommendation for maintenance of all the components of the new National Stadium."
"In doing this, your Task Force should consult and work with the Inter-Ministerial Committee to produce a holistic and viable agenda for the maintenance of the Games complexes. This, as I have always reiterated, is to stem the rot and decay which attended similar facilities in Lagos and the attendant wastage of public funds," the President stressed.
In his letter of thanks and congratulations to Atiku (Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Games), the President noted that "when I decided that this committee be set up and placed under your leadership, I did so in the belief that you will bring your vast experience to bear on that responsibility. I am confident that the people of Nigeria, like me, are very pleased with the outcome.
"The event has, no doubt, helped to re-establish our leadership in African affairs, especially, since in our time, our country has made history as the only African nation to have hosted the event twice within a space of 30 years."
He added: "Again, let me thank you very much for your leadership as chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee and congratulate you on a most admirable outing."
However, Professor Soyinka has vowed never to take part in any exercise in the country of the magnitude of the just-concluded 8th All Africa Games, tagged Abuja 2003.
Soyinka spoke at a press briefing held in Lagos yesterday, during which he highlighted the obstacles encountered by the Creative Task Force, an artistic body charged with the responsibility of organising the opening and closing ceremonies of the games.
"This is the very last of such exercise I will ever undertake in this country," said Soyinka, as he complained of nonchalance by those at the highest authority, who he said had the responsibility of overseeing and facilitating the organisation of the ceremonies and the entire games.
According to Soyinka, who was the Artistic Consultant to COJA, contrary to the general belief that the opening and closing ceremonies took place without any hitches, the events were almost marred by the various incidents which occurred hours before the ceremonies began.
Two hours to the beginning of the opening ceremony, he said, it was almost certain the event would fail owing to the protest which was staged by the artists, who insisted they must be paid before taking part in the opening ceremony.
For Soyinka, this and other obstacles seemed to have been "put there for the whole thing to fail and it almost failed."
He said further: "Artists in this nation deserve more respect than were given in this assignment. Until about 5.15 p.m. that day, it nearly didn't happen because the artists refused to play their role. And it was because they were not paid."