The Ebonyi State Government and the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state are on a collision course over the party’s plan to use the Abakaliki Township Stadium for its rally on Saturday.
The APC had earlier announced that it will hold a mega rally at the stadium on Saturday, ahead of the 2019 general election.
But the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP)- led state government in a reaction on Thursday maintained that it has not given approval for its use.
While the state government said it has banned the use of the stadium, which it recently renamed Pa Ngele Oruta Stadium, for any political rally pending when ongoing reconstruction work is completed, the APC on its part insists it will use the facility.
The Chief Press Secretary to Governor David Umahi, Emmanuel Uzor, while addressing members of the Sports Writers Associatio (SWAN) Ebonyi State chapter, who paid him a courtesy visit to him, urged the APC in the state ”to look elsewhere for venue for its proposed rally”.
According to him, the stadium is not available for use as it is still undergoing reconstruction and renovation including asphalting and illumination of floodlights.
“Abakaliki Township stadium now Pa Ngele Oruta stadium as you all know has been under construction and as I am talking to you, the asphalting of the back of the stadium is ongoing and the illumination of the floodlights and the popular stand is ongoing,” he explained.
He said although the state government allows for freedom of political parties in the state to operate unhindered, it will not allow any political activity at the stadium for now.
“Any political activity in that place especially by a particular party that is divided along three different strange lines will jeopardise the construction work in the stadium.
“We believe in accommodating all the different voices especially different parties in the state. We don’t want to stifle any opposition, any opposition with credible integrity that wants to do anything is free to do it but as for the stadium, if you notice for some time, even the state government has not done anything in the stadium because of the work going on there.”
He noted that Governor Umahi has brought in investors from China that will upgrade the stadium to international standards.
“The state government and the governor just came back from China, he brought some investors who are coming to look into the stadium and know how they can upgrade it to more international standard.
Meanwhile, the state publicity secretary of APC, Nwoba Chika, maintained that the party will use the stadium on Saturday.
He warned supporters of the state government to stay away from the stadium on Saturday ”for their own good”.
“We are using the state township stadium on Saturday for our rally irrespective of the refusal of the state government. We are using it and we are here warning the touts who would be sent by the governor or anybody to stop our entry into the facility to please stay at home for their own interest. We will not entertain any nonsense that day.
“The state government wrote to our great party, the APC this morning saying that the stadium was undergoing reconstruction, a stadium that was used for several events a few days ago. Let it be known to all Ebonyians that the APC Ebonyi State chapter shall be making use of the stadium on Saturday, reconstruction works or not,” Mr Nwoba added.