Edo Govt would have rejected Peter Obi Stadium request even 14 days prior - Official say

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An official of the Edo state government has confirmed that even though Mr. Peter Obi had requested to use the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City two weeks prior; he would have been rejected.

The new position defeated the government's defence that the request to use the arena by the Labour Party Presidential candidate came at short notice, therefore, was rejected.

The state commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Mr Chris Osa Nehikhare, told Standard Gazette on Sunday that the earlier request wouldn't have changed the government response.

When asked why the government had taken the short notice as a defence, Mr Nehikhare said, "It's not a defence."

Rally during Peter Obi visit to Edo State
Rally during Peter Obi visit to Edo State

In response to the LP state publicity secretary, Sam Oroupa, Mr Nehikhare said, "It must be acknowledged that political rallies are not permitted in the stadium."

The statement is also contrary to the action of the government as Mr Obaseki and the party, Peoples Democratic Party, had a rally at the same arena on the 26 of October, 2022.

Edo state government had held the position that Mr Obi's letter of request was addressed to the Stadium managers on the 8 of November 2022 and received at 1.30pm of the same day.

He added, "Assuming the stadium permitted the hosting of political rallies, 3 days' notice to have the stadium facilities prepared and ready for a political event is not only an arduous task but almost an impossible one, considering the time and special care required for the protection of such facility as the tartan athletics track.

"Furthermore, some of the facilities at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium are under warranty, with stringent handling conditions demanded to guarantee the validity of the warranty.

"As we all know, political rallies are usually very rowdy with the attendant difficulty of crowd control and therefore require the timely expression of interest for the use of such venues housing delicate facilities. The appropriate approach would have been to avail the stadium managers enough latitude of time to guarantee adequate protection of facilities."

On why the PDP government used the stadium and denied others, the Commissioner said, "Let me also allay the misconception of considering it biased for the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium managers to have granted permission for the PDP Presidential rally to hold at the venue. Apart from ample time in requesting and preparing the venue for use, the occasion was the official commissioning of the newly renovated stadium."

The government's decision to deny LP the use of the stadium attracted negative reactions across Nigeria but Mr Obaseki doubled down during his appearance on Channels TV program "Politics Today" that there was no enough time to prepare the stadium due to the short notice.

Governor Obaseki, however, expressed his disappointment in the Labour Party stating that he thought they were more serious.

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