By Archibong Jeremiah
Orok Duke, Chairman Cross River State Sports Commission has been accused of over stepping his bounds.
The accusation was levied by Bruce Ijirigho, a Sports Consultant to the Senator Imoke led administration after been ejected from his office space in the UJ Esuene stadium, Calabar by the Sports Commission.
Stating his case, Bruce told CrossRiverWatch that, “I do not understand where the man (Orok Duke) is coming from at all, I do not have a contract with him, I do not have a contract with the Sports Commission, the contract I have, I have executed very successfully and I have served Cross River State with great success. I have brought great accomplishment, great joy and result to sports development in Cross River State and I wasn’t engaged by Sports Commission”.
Continuing he said, “I did not receive any notice that they are interested in taking over my office not even in writing or verbally. I wasn’t around they went there and threw away my things out of the office. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, all he has to do is go to the Commissioner for Sports and ask for our contract or governor’s office, it is there”.
Buttressing his point, Ijirigho added: “I’m not stupid, I’m far older than he is, and I’m far knowledgeable than he is and I’m not a street tout, all I want is the best for Cross Riverians. Listen, how can my own staff who I pay salary to every month pack my things out of the office he occupies on daily basis and lock the place, hand over the keys to Orok Duke? People who are still expecting me to pay their salary at the end of this month?”
Concluding he said, “Orok Duke brought his people, packed my things, fought my Secretary and other staff, come on! be realistic please. The Press was there and other people were also there. Sincerely speaking I have not had the chance of seeing the Governor to advise him correctly; I don’t hold that on him, he’s busy trying to get business opportunities for the State”.
Following the allegations, CrossRiverWatch contacted Orok Duke who said, “Well the design of the stadium is such that the offices are supposed to be used for the various associations and for storage purposes but for over 20 years they have gone ahead to farm out those offices as shops. Considering the fact that we have this national event (National Sports Festival) coming up, we need to re-possess the shops and relocate the associations and their coaches.
“So the Commission decided that we needed to re-possess and allocate those shops. We considered the necessities of these issues and associations and decided to accommodate them. The issue of a consultant; we don’t know any consultant, the agreement he had is with the last government and we don’t know anything about him and whatever he did with all the huge sum of money he has consumed we don’t have anything on ground.
“When we got there we saw somebody who said he’s the Secretary and we said all the shop owners are vacating. It’s a national assignment, kindly help us so the Secretary removed the things and said I’m going to get a bus to come that’s all. We never touched anybody, we appealed to them”.
Defending his point, he added: “All the athletes discovered, trained and groomed all over the years have all been sold out, some are in America and some others in Bahrain that is the evidence. The evidence should be in the area of who actually sold them, he would deny. Athletics Federation of Nigeria will deny but Athletic Federation of Nigeria would need to give any athlete going out a form of clearance”.
Continuing Orok alleged that, “All the athletes who became stars were all sold out, Cross River State Government has lost huge sum of money in millions in that regards. If right now there are 14 athletes that we have lost when you consider that it takes between 30 and 40 million to discover an athlete, groom from a young age between 10 and 14 to 20 when they are in a position of maximizing the highest potentials, you are looking at 30 to 40 million and the 14 of them have been lost in athletics alone in which the so called consultant was in charge of.
“Secondly in basketball we have just lost like five, at a point in time we didn’t have a basketball pitch, lawn tennis court, we have gotten that. We have nothing to do with the man, there are 63 shops and we have re-possessed all and reallocated. It’s upsetting talking of one person. They occupied the area illegally, some of them have not remitted rent for like 3, 4, 5 and some 10 years; for the past ten years the main bowl has not had public power supply because they had two big generators we have to turn around those things.
“If we don’t set example with Calabar stadium how are we going to ask the special project unit to handle Ikom stadium and take over Ogoja stadium? We must set a pace and then run with it”.
On other issues bedevilling sports in the State he said, “So terrible are the contractors, one came and the record we have says the contractor got 1.4billion and he said he got 900 and something and he showed us documents, we are actually going to insist that the special project or any other arm of government that had ever given out contracts to hand over document to us, we will recover. What we discovered is that some of these contractors had bonds before they draw the money for the State and when they don’t fulfill we will break the bonds and retrieve our money.
Orok Duke went on to say that, “The problem of the contractor is that Governor Imoke is owning him 400 million, this is somebody that was earning close to a hundred million a month for 6 years we were not there, and Imoke goes, he now comes to claim 400 million outstanding, I can’t participate in that, where is the original agreement, if he doesn’t show us let him show you people that he was even a consultant, the Sports Commission is the only body authorized by law to run sports base on law one of 2001, that is why Donald Duke never had any Commissioner for Sports, okay; during Liyel’s time he stood it down, now Governor Ayade in his wisdom has activated Sports Commission, are we not to do our work by law?”.
“Okay, if I ask for data base and a contractor has done some work for 6, 7 years and had gotten so much money, show us data base of those athletes and let of go for them because the proper policy which we used to excel those years of South Eastern States time is when you catch an athlete you place the athlete on performing salary two, three, four, five so the athlete will have small money to pay for training and wash his or her kits and they excelled, when you don’t keep performing you graduate from performing athlete to either organizing secretary or a coach”.
Disclosing that, “Like the present Director of Sports, Amadi, came as a performing athlete, after a while he became a coach and vacillated towards administration today he’s the Director of Sports. Every athlete should be made to have that opportunity”.
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