Akwa Ibom state government has disallowed President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) from using the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium for the party’s political rally scheduled for Friday.
Monday Uko, the commissioner for sports, in a statement, said the pitch is being maintained and reserved for pre-fixed matches and the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) starting in January.
The statement read: “In view of this and the fixtures of home matches for Akwa United FC, it will be practically impossible to ‘regrass’ the stadium for pre-fixed matches, if used for non-sports activities, because of the nature of pressure that such events bring on the pitch.
“Additionally, The Maintenance Contractor (Julius Berger) had also advised that the present atmospheric conditions being very hostile to the pitch, the facility should not be used for non-sport activities during this harmattan period, so as to avoid inflicting long-term or irreversible damage to the grass on the football pitch.”
Uko said this was the same reason the state couldn’t use the stadium for its annual Christmas carol held on Friday.
He said: “The stadium from its inception has been under a maintenance contract with Julius Berger Construction Company. They operate all the sensitive and non-sensitive components of the facility.
“They had closed for the year and proceeded on vacation (as it has been their usual practice) and are due to resume on January 7, 2018. The implication of this is that the technical capacity required to activate the venue is currently unavailable, and this is not within our control.”
Buhari, who is expected to flag off his re-election campaign in the state, has been directed to use the Uyo Township Stadium which has a smaller capacity.