Ebi Egbe, the Chief Executive of Monimichlle who is currently undertaking the reconstruction of the Sampson Siasia Stadium, Yenagoa was cornered by newspaper editors during the 2nd Governor Dickson Wrestling Classics. He spoke on the level of work done so far.
Below are the excerpts:
How far has this gone, and when are you likely to deliver?
To be honest with you, as you can see we are at the finishing state of the job right now. The sub-based for the athletic track is 100 per cent complete, the T section is 100 per cent complete, and our parameter for drainage is 100 per cent complete. Our surface for the turf technology grass and infield is 100 per cent complete and ecstatic of the stadium is 80 per cent complete because we have not changed the seats. Although ecstatic is not part of my contract but as a Bayelsan, am very proactive to make sure we get the very best for Bayelsa state, and we are going on step ahead to make sure we get the best for our people because this stadium is our stadium. I don’t wait for government to mobilize me before doing the aesthetic. We‘ve done the aesthetic, we‘ve done the surface for the track, we’ve done the damage to the pipe to fix the drainage. All that is left now are import base elements. When those elements start coming in, Bayelsans will start to see our finish product. What I can assure Bayelsans is what we are having here is the best of the best in terms of football playing surface, and the best of the best in terms of athletic track.
You are aware the National football league would soon commerce and Bayelsans are clamoring for Bayelsa United and other teams in the state playing here.
Give or take when do you think this pitch will be ready?
Well that is a very important question, though we waited for over three years before this contract was awarded to us, what I can tell you is that since the governor said he wants to put this project under his office, I must tell you that I must commend the governor because we had an agreement for installment payment, so far so good government has not defaulted. Unfortunately the job has a variation because it is an import base job, the variation is very high nobody liked it but the governor is somebody who want to make sure that this project is completed intervened and negotiated directly with me Monimichlle, we conceded as Bayelsans and agreed and he has authorize payment of our variation, so am waiting. You know usually when governor say go and pay bureaucratic bottle neck comes in. You know as far as the governor is concern he has given go ahead Monimichelle to be paid to complete this job. So that is where we are, once we get paid by the grace of God this week, am pretty sure next week things will start fall through. You must understand that government policies has also changed in terms of bringing in materials like what we use for our football playing field, there is what we call soccer probation, product certification that has to be done at the manufacturing plant in Italy where my product is coming from, that takes about two to three weeks. They must certify it, that certificate will be sent to Monimichlle, that is the certificate am going to attach with Form ‘M’ before I can get certification to ship my goods. It is a new government policy. We have to go through that process now, when we must have FIFA test. From start to finish of all our products we must make it available to the press. FIFA test certification of every single item we are going to use on this pitch, so soccer pundits will know that all our materials are FIFA certify, all our athletic track materials are IAF certify so we can get that certificates to ship our goods, so next week once everything comes through I can attentively tell Bayelsans that in five weeks, in four weeks you will see your field because am a very realistic guy. Momichelle has a name to protect. You will see your field complete with goal post, corner flanges all complete but will not be able to play on the surface because we are not going to install the infield; why? Because we must complete the athletic track otherwise I end up finishing the field traffic will damage my sub-base of the athletic track.
This athletic base track cost me a lot of money to do it’s 1.3 kilometer concrete, so you know it is important for Bayelsans to understand that governor has given go ahead for the track and field to completed so that is our work, apart from that am going to go one step ahead by providing the pillars so that vehicles cannot go on our athletic tracks because vehicles riding on it will create undulation of the athletic track, that’s bad so we are gonna have pillars, everybody park outside.
Apart from that you also know that we are also given the Bayelsa state government complementary free courts – a complete changing room. We have polar court, volleyball court, basketball court approved by FIBA with disable ramp for Bayelsans and that is complementary. All the reasons for doing this things is that my dream and the governor’s dream and our vision is to make sure that the issue of Bayelsa state is that we are going to host zonal meets first. We have never hosted zonal meets. We usually take our zonal meets to Rivers state pay N10million. Take our sporting activity to Rivers state and boost sports tourism in Rivers state. We need to stop that.
That is why we are being proactive to provide these facilities as complementary to the Bayelsa state government so that Bayelsa state sports council can say. You know what? We can host zonal meets. We have football field, athletic track, we have volley court, we bailer court, we basketball court, we are comfortable to host. Then after zonal meets we can now work towards hosting National Sports Festivals before Governor Dickson leaves office. So he is making history in a whole lot in the sports sector, in different segment he is making history, the first governor to give us athletic track, the first governor to bring zonal meet to Bayelsa state, the first governor to join the bid for National Sports Festival. That apart we now have the Asoama Sports Academy, we Bayelsans don’t really understand how much that school will help Bayelsa and Nigerians as a whole and Africa.
Asoama is in Kolokuma/Opokuma. The Asoama Sporting Academy is a fantastic idea. We must make sure that project come into limelight. Am a Bayelsan, I have been living here for 10 years; the governor is building an academy that fused with education. 60 per cent education 40 per cent sports. Let me break it down, my son is nine years old, he wants to play for Arsenal, he’s been on my case that he wants to play football. I know that football is very addictive am telling him that you cannot play football face your education.
Governor Dickson has brought an academy that will make my son 10 years old who plays soccer to live his dream as a footballer at the same time get educational value. You can beat that.
The educational part is completed the facility part is what we are working on right now. If go to the site you see a dredger. If you go into sports hall you will see the plan, everything is set to go and the governor is bent on making sure that remain as his legacy in time to come. That is one of the areas that will generating a lot of income to Bayelsa state government because once Nigerians and African get to know that their 9-year-old or 10-year-old kid can live their dream to do sports at the same time get educational value; every parent will scramble to get their kids into that academy. It’s a fantastic thing. The ones we have in Africa today, the Ambas is football and education. Desireye has one in Ghana its football and education. There is no country anywhere in the world that where you have education and sports. The governor is doing great in my sector the sports sector. I can stand and tell everybody, that he has surpassed every single governor in terms of sports development in Bayelsa state.
Take the case of Bayelsa United they are not crying for salary anymore. Now we are waiting for them to deliver. They must come back to premier league; if they don’t come back they failed not the governor because they are getting all the support they need now to run Bayelsa United.
There is also a plan we are trying to advise the chairman whoever is sitting in the board of Bayelsa United, whatever subvention you are getting from government, don’t always wait for government. You sell players, work towards using that money to build permanent site for Bayelsa United. It is possible! These things can be done and not to always wait for government to give us money to go and honour games.
If you look at the amount of money government paying for hotels for Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens in one season is enough to build a permanent home for Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens. If you agree with me, we must not be selfish. If we are selfish we cannot develop Bayelsas state. If you have the opportunity to have that kind of platform, use it well write your in platter of gold that is why today Monimichelle is a household name in the country because I don’t compromise.
That is why the permanent secretary in the Abia state Ministry of Spouts said Monimichelle is a contractor with conscience in Abia state, my sub-base course is N10million but I spent a N100million. For me it’s not all about the money, my name is money, I will always make money.
You talk about bidding to host zonal and National Sports Festivals, but Bayelsans are of the view that this sports complex is not befitting for the state and there is clamour for a new stadium, what is your take on this?
With the current economic situation in the country, I will never advise the governor to embark on a stadium project. I have plans I have re-designed this stadium. The same space we are going to increase it to fifteen thousand capacity. The only thing that gonna go is that building over there. If I show you the design of this stadium you will not believe, under N 2billion we can get done, to construct a new stadium in this area it will cost nothing less than N15billion, we don’t have that, let us not deceive ourselves. What we have here we can improve on it.
What about the size?
The space is okay, what about Enyimba Stadium? We have the space to build it to fifteen thousand capacity. There is o need to start thinking of building another stadium. I don’t believe elephant project, and the governor is very realistic, he would jumping building a stadium for 40billion that is bullshit. He is very realistic guy. We can transform this stadium into a fifteen thousand capacity. What makes a stadium is your pitch and your track. If you have the best facade in the world and your pitch and your track is bad they will mark “X” that is why I can stand tall and talk to anybody in Nigeria to tell them that we have the best stadium in Nigeria. You know why? We have a first class pitch and a first class athletic track look the facade, new stadium is fine but the pitch is bad, look at the National Stadium beautiful stadium the field and the track is bad and not in use. Teslim Balogun beautiful setting, national teams cannot play there, but when I finish this pitch it is our pitch I believe national teams can come and train here.