BY SIMON EBEGBULEM, BeninCity
President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Mr Solomon Ogba has said the Okpekpe road race will reposition track and field in the country.
Ogba made the remarks yesterday during a visit to Governor Oshiomhole to intimate him of preparations for the Okpekpe road race holding May 4.
According to Ogba, “we have decided to bring track and field race back to the traditional home, Bendel, the Okpekpe road race will reposition track and field in the country and the prize money for the event will be one of the highest in the world.
Ogba who commended the state government for the transformation of the Okpekpe road, venue of the first road race in Nigeria said Edo will also the Athletics Golden meet on April 28.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole while commending the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN for bringing the world to Okpekpe in Etsako East Local Government Area for the first road race in the country said the race is consistent with the rural development agenda of the state administration.
He said: “We are excited by the AFN to organize the first road race in this part of the world. For me we have no apologies as some people say we want to showcase the road to Okpekpe is beautiful. We actually want to show there is life in rural Nigeria.
“In Edo State we pay attention to the rural communities. We want to show that in Edo state we do not see the rural people as being inferior to the urban people and as much as we are working in the urban areas, they are doing exactly the same thing in our rural areas. We want to show that our rural roads are even better than a lot of our federal roads called federal highway,” he noted.
According to the governor, for those visiting from other countries it will be an opportunity for them to realise that in Nigeria, we do pay attention to those basic infrastructures which our rural communities need and it will be for them to compare our rural roads with the one in their own country.
“We are ready to contribute our widow’s mite to support the prize money, to make it attractive enough for those competing. We will contribute not just in terms of security but will make some modest financial contribution to make this outing a huge success and to make it something we look up to every year.” he added.
Mr Ogba was accompanied on the visit by Chief Mike Itemuagbor, honorary Adviser to the Governor on Sports.