By Festus Ahon
ASABA, the Delta State capital is now wearing a festive mood ahead as preparations for the 21st Africa Senior Athletics Championship get to top gear.
The Stephen Keshi Stadium, venue of the championship has been fully equipped and ready to host Africa as the Delta State Government is not leaving anything to chance in ensuring that all that were necessary to have a successful event are put in place.
The State Government, as part of preparation for the hosting, has embarked on the construction and maintenance of some internal roads in Asaba to reduce traffic on the busy Nnembisi road. It has also given the State capital a facelift through the beautification of the city.
Speaking while declaring open the “African Tour/Trial”, and test run of facilities at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, venue of the championship, the State Deputy Governor, Mr Kingsley Otuaro said “all the necessary facilities needed for the championship are in place for a successful event”.
Saying athletes from 45 African countries including Nigeria will be in Asaba for the championship, he said; “today (last week Tuesday) marks the test running of the facilities in preparation of the African Senior Athletics Championship and as you can see we are very set for the country, we are set for Africa.
“For everyone, both athletes and guests, as a state government, our simple message is that Delta state is set to give them a beautiful hosting; we are an accommodating people, everything that is needed to make this championship a success is set and we are welcoming them all”.
While calling on Deltans and lovers of sports to come out en-mass to give support to the athletes and make the event a memorable one, he said adequate security and other logistics had been provided to ensure a hitch free championship.
According to him, the test run of facilities was organised to prove to the world that the state was 100% ready to host the continent, adding that the event would continue to be acknowledged in the annals of history as the most successful in the series of the championship.
Reiterating the hospitable nature of Deltans, he urged the visitors to also take advantage of the tourism potentials of the state
The test run of facilities for the 21st African Senior Athletics Championship featured various track and field events by students of selected secondary schools and professional athletes from within and outside the country.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who was at the stadium, Tuesday, said “the state is ready to host the athletes and visitors for the Asaba 2018 competition.
Saying all the major works at the stadium have been completed, he said; “we are ready to host the African Senior Athletics Competition, most of the facilities are ready and by Sunday, few days from now, all the facilities will be ready for the opening ceremony; I was happy that we had a successful African trial as it showed our preparedness to host the whole of Africa”.
The Governor, who was conducted round the facilities by the LOC Chairman, Chief Solomon Ogba, enjoined Deltans in particular and NIgerians to turn up enmasse to watch the competition, adding that “as Deltans, we should be proud that we are hosting the whole of Africa, we should be proud and we expect Nigerians to turn up and cheer the athletes.”