The only thing I thought was going to happen today was the fact that Nigeria would play against Benin and win. I didn’t want to think beyond that.
I did not want to bother myself. I had a late-night after the folks that came over and it took a while clearing up the mess from yesterday. I had nothing planned for the morning so it was all about writing, writing and more writing.
Four stories/ articles were done including yesterday’s diary and posted. Next was breakfast as Kingsley Oyero, Precious Njoku, Chukwuebuka Michael and Joan Nwachukwu came over.
We just chatted and made fun after that as we waited on the clock to just tick away.
At about noon, Faith Oluchi arrived from Port Harcourt and we teased her a bit as we were not sure if she came in for the Super Eagles game or Akwa United.
But it would soon be time to get going.
Precious had never been to a Super Eagles game and was a bit shocked when we said we would leave at 3 pm for a 5 pm game. Let her know that this was even late and we only did 2 hours to kick off because it was obvious that the people of Uyo were not interested in the game.
Stern looking policemen and the DSS
On arrival, it was obvious that the terraces would not be filled. There was no crowd trying in. There were just a few people walking in through the gates.
It was like a Rivers United game in the league. No pushing and pulling nothing at the gates because there wasn’t a massive turnout.
But trust the policemen as they would want to create drama when there really should not be any.
Sanipe Damiete and a lady journo who we met at the gate tried to wave their accreditation tags at the heavily armed policeman at the gate in a bid to evade the queue forming and get in quickly but did they almost get the beating of their lives or was he just trying to scare them into submission.
The stern look he gave them when they showed their accreditation tags made it like he had no idea what it was. Then he acted like he was going to pull his rifle into combat position and from where I stood watching, I wondered why he needed to do all that because two journalists accredited to cover a game needed to go in on time.
I simply just warned Sanipe not to bother about explaining to a man who obviously does not know the difference between an international football match and a political gathering.
However, we got in, took our seats at the media tribune that was less than a third filled. And this was about an hour to kick off.
Need I forget to say we passed through heavily armed and stern-looking Department of State Security, DSS Officials on our way up the terraces. They did not cause any trouble, really, but they seemed like they were on the lookout for a notorious terrorist. I did not understand why we needed all this drama for a football match. Unless the security officials had information, they were keeping away from us.
Nobody wants to watch the Super Eagles
This was surely the way it seemed as the stadium had less than three thousand people with just 50 minutes to kick-off. It had never been this bad in Uyo. Certainly, I knew that more people would turn up but there was no way this place would be filled today.
The people started streaming in but at half time, the stadium was barely a quarter full and by the end of the game, just about half full.
Maybe it was because this was Benin Republic and people did not think the game was worth the trouble; maybe the government of Akwa Ibom State was not interested in mobilizing people into the stadium as most governments would do. Could it also be that the man is still not happy with the way the Super Eagles farewell game in 2018 was taken to Port Harcourt? Maybe not happy that after the World Cup the team moved to Asaba? I am just thinking aloud.
Or maybe the people are hungry and like someone said on my twitter TimeLine that a hungry man does not think about watching football.
Streaming to the World and the NTA feed
Well, I did not plan to do it but I just thought that I render a service to humanity which I did until half time.
Then I heard a lot about the live broadcast by the Nigeria Television Authority, NTA; did you watch the game via NTA or twitter TV? What are your thoughts?
Late night meeting
We know how the game went and while the post-match presser was on, I sat in the media tribune with Sanipe Damiete and Precious Njoku. I was still on a boycott of press conferences at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium.
I was asked by Kingsley Oyero what my next move would be and I said it was to go to my room and sleep, except of course I get a call from Amaju Pinnick, the NFF president then I would be at the team hotel. So, we sat and waited for the presser to end when I messaged Pinnick and he said I could come over so off we went.
Lucky for us, Victor Modo offered to take us to the hotel, so we stopped over for dinner and then it was off to Le Meridien.
I had been chatting with Maduka Okoye via WhatsApp for two months now but we were yet to complete an interview. I was also yet to meet him.
I met him at the lobby of the hotel and went to introduce myself. We were meeting for the first time. He apologized for not being able to come through and we planned to complete it (the interview) at some time in the future.
I hooked him up with Precious Njoku for a quick interview even though she had to wait a bit since he was attending to members of his family that came over.
After a little wait, I went in with Sanipe Damiete for a brief meeting with the NFF president.
It was going to be a late-night for me again and an early start as I already had interviews with Joe Aribo and Victor Osimhen. I need to get going now