The Nigeria University Games Association, NUGA, has temporarily suspended the national university Games which began on Saturday in Makurdi, over what it called “technical hitches”.
NUGA Secretary-General, B. O. Orodele, who announced the suspension on Sunday in Makurdi, said that the action became necessary because “both athletes and contingent officials have not been accredited as required by the guidelines of the Games”.
“The temporary suspension will enable both the officials of NUGA and the host university to sort out the technical hitches,” he said.
Reacting to the hitches, the President of NUGA, Stephen Hanafyelto of the University of Maiduguri, blamed the confusion on the ICT Unit of the association which “defied my instructions over accreditation”.
He alleged that the ICT Unit refused to heed his instructions on the procedure for accreditation, preferring to deal with the Secretary-General.
“If the problems are not resolved before Monday, we will have no option than to cancel the Games,” he said.
The NUGA president said that more than 450 accreditation tags were needed for both athletes and officials.
Reacting to the threats of cancellation, Emmanuel Kucha, Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, the host institution, said that the university should not be punished “for the sins of others”.
“The problem is between the Secretary-General and the President of NUGA, and not the host institution; we have done all they asked us to do. We provided facilities and venues.
“How can they take such an arbitrary decision after we have spent so much money? Do they know where we got the money from?
“As far as University of Agriculture, Makurdi is concerned, we are ready. We have done our part. We should not be victims of any disagreement between two NUGA officials,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the opening football match of the fiesta, between the host institution and the Kaduna State University (KASU), rescheduled from Saturday to 7 a.m. on Sunday, had to be postponed again, owing to the confusion over accredited athletes.
No date has been fixed for the game and other subsequent soccer outings.
A cross section of athletes, who spoke on the development, expressed dissatisfaction over the confusion that had enveloped the games.
The athletes regretted the poor arrangements from NUGA and the host university, and called for a timely resolution of the differences and the technical hitches, so that the games would resume.
Mr. Hanafyelto also said NUGA is not satisfied with facilities at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi though it is staging the Games there.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday that the association had to postpone the Games preliminaries and shift the Games several times to allow UAM to fix its facilities.
He said the association had been in Makurdi several times, including its last visit in February to ensure that facilities were ready for the Games.
The NUGA president disclosed that the choice of alternative venues with better facilities within Makurdi was to protect the integrity of the competition.
“When it became obvious that no other institutions will take up the hosting of the Games, the options available to us were either to stage them at the National Stadium, Abuja, or further postpone them.
“If we had opted for postponement to get adequate facilities, they wouldn’t be held even in 2019.
“That is why swimming is holding at the National Stadium Abuja, because the swimming pool here will gulp about N200 million to be ready for use.
“It was at that stage that we decided to go into the town to source for alternative venues with better facilities for the Games,” he said.
NAN reports that the Games are holding in Vaatia College, Makurdi Club, Aper Aku Stadium, Mount Saint Gabriel’s Secondary School and the Sports Complex of the Makurdi university.
He therefore, advised coaches, heads of university contingent and athletes to manage available facilities for the success of the Games.
“I know that they are supposed to lay tartan tracks for athletics but we will make do with what we have to select athletes that will represent us at the World University Games later in China.
“Any athlete that can win running on sand will excel competing on tartan tracks.’’
However, the Vice-Chancellor of UAM, Emmanuel Kucha, in an earlier interview with NAN had said the university’s facilities were okay for the Games.
He disclosed that the institution invested about N500 million on facilities, explaining that some were “built from scratch while others were upgraded’’.
Also corroborating Kucha’s views, the institutions Director of Sports, Stephen Awen, took exception to allegations of inadequate facilities, saying NUGA had certified them in a pre-Games inspection visit to the school.