-By Albert OGRAKA:
Immediate past Technical Director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and Head of the Security sub-committee in the recently concluded African Senior Athletics Championship, Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama (rtrd) has said the tournament which held at the Stephen Keshi stadium, Asaba, was hitch-free because of the synergy that existed between his committee and all security, paramilitary and safety agencies in Delta state.
The IAAF licensed Athletes representative, who said the successful security measures was not devoid of certain challenges, noted that the synergy had helped in tightening all loose ends from the time of arrival of athletes to their time of departure from Asaba.
“I thank God that from beginning to the end, we didn’t get any record of security related issues. We prepared very hard for it and I’m very happy that the security strategy worked. I engaged all the security agencies, both the military and paramilitary despite the fact that a sub-committee was set up, I expanded the subcommittee to include every security and paramilitary agencies as well as the fire service, red cross and some other safety agencies and it became an all encompassing body.”
Speaking to newsmen in Asaba, Navy Commodore Nesiama (rtrd) also said the feat recorded by his committee has proved both local and international skeptics wrong about security concerns throughout the Championship and especially those who claim that the Niger-Delta region is unsafe.
“I have traveled round competitions based on my position as Technical Director, so I know how these things are done. I know the expectations and particularly because of our own clime and terrain, there was every need for us to prove the skeptics wrong that Niger-Delta isn’t safe, a place where they get kidnapped and so on and so forth.”
Navy Commodore Nesiama (rtrd), who is a member of CAA International Technical Officials Panel and CAA Technical and Competitions Commission, however said “the water tank incident which occured towards the end of the event was not a security incidence, hence the main goal of the security sub-committe was the planning strategy that ensured no life was lost and we achieved it.”
On the effective management of the crowd within and outside the Stephen Keshi Stadium, venue of the athletics tourney, Navy Commodore Nesiama (rtrd) noted that tact and security intelligence were deployed to curtail the surge and with the help of trained private security personnel, the crowd was carefully managed according to acceptablespecification.
“I used the CCTV cameras to access both inside and outside the stadium and when we saw the surge we decided to allow people in from the entrance point to decongest the main gate. And when I now realized that the stadium was full to capacity, the only option was to now work on the safety aspect of our job which was to inform those outside that the stadium is filled up to capacity. We adviced those that were outside to return home or nearby viewing centers to watch the event which has be granted rights to be broadcast live. So they can be part of it without necessarily being inside the stadium.
“We also announced that at the end of the event every one inside the stadium should remain seated while the security personnel, especially the private security agencies/personnel would manage the crowd to leave in an orderly manner and every one will be evacuated in a short time and all these were part of our plan and thank God everything went well.”
Speaking on some of the challenges he faced with the athletes, he said the security sub-committee having planned for unforseen circumstances, they were ready to tackle such situations.
“When you plan and everything works perfectly well, there’s something wrong and when you plan, you should be ready to hear some little errors. So based on that we experienced one or two challenges. When such situations come, we consider it not out of our power and try to tackle it as much as we can.
“For example events like this requires fewer hotels than what we actually got, which provided extra challenge. If we had hotels that could accommodate between 500 and 1000 guests, we would have proudly located everybody in one or two, especially the International or foreign guests. It would have given us more consideration of security, less number of personell and reduced the cost of transporting or escorting them to and fro in their areas of activity.”
When asked to comment on the recently reported alleged vandalization of facilities at the Stephen Keshi stadium, Navy Commodore Nesiama (rtrd) said: “My committee’s work ended with the last delegates leaving the country. While the championship lasted, our security was all over the place and after the championship, we knew that the collapsed fence will provide an entry into the stadium, if not protected. We made a recommendation that there will be need to quickly secure the stadium in our reports but we dont know if that report has gotten out or not.”
The private security consultant therefore appealed to the state government to ensure that the stadium and its facilities are maintained to sustain the good works of the Delta state governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa.
“The stadium and its facilities have to be maintained. We need to enhance the security of the stadium and we need to restrict access to certain sensitive areas to ensure that the facilities that people saw during the championship are still there to make the place beautiful.”