Dr Patrick Ekeji, a former Director-General of the defunct National Sports Commission, NSC, Friday evening averted what
would have turned into a showdown after he appealed to protesting Imo athletes to give the state government more time to investigate and come up with lasting solutions to their grievances.
The athletes were agitating over unpaid camping allowances ahead of the now postponed National Sports Festival earlier
billed for Benin City, Edo State before Ekeji, who is chairman of the Imo Sports Commission Review Committee stepped in to
pacify the athletes who alleged they were paid pittance for their three weeks camping.
It was understood that Ekeji was in a meeting with members of his committee including Professor Ken Anugwoeje, Dr Ogu Mr Abara and others while the athletes protest went on.
The embittered athletes claimed they were paid only five hundred naira a day by their officials after funds were provided to offset their three weeks camping before the Edo 2020 National Sports Festival was suspended by the Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development in conjunction with the Federal Government.
The athletes demanded for the head of an unnamed Director of the Commission who they accused of masterminding their shortchange for the three weeks they spent in camp preparatory for the now suspended Sports Festival.
At this point, Ekeji left his Committee’s meeting and addressed the angry athletes, bringing out the best of his human management skills to calm the frayed nerves of the athletes numbering about 100.
The former Green Eagles defender and later coach made the athletes to understand that he, Ekeji, is one of them and that he will not allow them to be cheated.
He demanded for their leaders who negotiated with the committee. Ekeji later assured them that he will meet the governor to present their needs within the next three days, much to the admiration of the athletes who were happy that for the first time someone addressed them like a father.