Nigeria: Monarch, Others Seek Permanent Arena for Okpekpe Road Race

Ahead of this year’s Okpekpe 10-kilometre Road Race, His Royal Highness (HRH), Peter Abalumhe Osigbemeh, has urged the Edo State Government and organiser of the competition, Pamodzi Sports Marketing (PSM) to develop an expansive permanent arena for the jamboree of the tournament.

The appeal came on the heels of the announcement of May 7, 2016, as the date of the 4th edition of the competition in Okpekpe, Etsako East Local Government Area, Edo State. Speaking on telephone, he said “Since this tournament is an annual event, I appeal to the organisers to develop a permanent arena for it.” Urging investors to take advantage of the yearly competition to invest in hotel accommodation, he lamented that Okpekpe kingdom was not benefitting much from the opportunity economically as the visitors still lodge in other communities. Following the capital flight from his domain, he called on investors from far and near to take advantage of the fiesta to build hotels in Okpekpe territory. “Due to absence of facilities we don’t benefit much from it economically becuase the athletes and other guests are still camped in Auchi.” He however expressed gratitude to the state government and the organisers for bringing Okpekpe to unimaginable prominence with the competition. The monarch said after adequate consultations, he may plan the Okpekpe National Day to hold same day with the road race to entertain guests with some cultural performances.

 He enjoined Okpekpe youths to practice and participate in the race since one of them too, could be the first to reach the finish line. Osigbemeh, who recalled that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had recertified the Okpekpe international 10-km road race as a bronze label event, thanked Governor Adams Oshiomhole and the CEO of PMS for their unforgettable gesture. Calling for the sustenance of the tournament, he appealed to the next administration to continue to partner the organisers to make the tournament a huge success.

In similar vein, another indigene of the community, Managing Director, Jalik Motors Enterprises, Mr. Jacob Iku, noted that if there was a permanent arena for the scaffolders, there would be no issue of transporting them yearly. He added that the present ceremonial venue was on the community’s major access road that was always blocked several hours after the race.

The National President, Okpekpe Clan Development Union (OCDU), Sir Ellams Umogane called for consultation on how to create the desired enabling environment for the expected guests. According to him, food vendors were already preparing their local delicacies while the union had improved on its awareness campaign to attract indigenes of Okpekpe to come and witness what they view on television right in their homeland.