Insecurity in Nigeria Affecting Sports Business, Aihie Laments

By Alexander Johnson Adejoh

Covid is almost completely gone but there is yet another epidemic that has continued to ruin the Nigerian enterprise, laments Mr. Emmanuel Aihie an executive director (Operations) with SBM Ltd.

‘That scourge is the violence and all forms of it around the country. Name them: the bandits, Boko Haram, unknown gunmen, herdsmen and kidnappers. They have ruined this economy; every facet of it and in every way,’ he lamented in an interview with newsmen.

‘It is sad that when we plan business events in certain parts of the country attendance becomes very difficult. How do you make money when your product is not in the market and then the market itself is shut down halfway? I am deeply involved in sports business no matter how brilliant the idea is, it is difficult to get participants to travel some distance away from their homes as their parents are worried about herdsmen and kidnappers.

‘We were working on an event to start in one of the Middle Belt states but as soon the Abuja prison was attacked, it impacted on the programme. The sponsors are worried that if terrorists could brazenly attack the seat of government every other area is vulnerable. This is very frustrating to say the least.”

Aihie says the corporate sponsors are not to be blamed as sports teams have been attacked on their way to events and individual players abducted in various parts of the country.

‘Can we count the number football teams that have been robbed or abducted along the Lagos-Benin Highway or along the Auchi-Okene-About axis? Let’s not even talk about the north. Right in the busy city of Warri a former Super Eagles midfielder was hijacked, robbed and held hostage.’

‘The only way good enough is for the teams to go by air but how many can afford that in Nigeria,” he queried.

Last month the former General Secretary of the Nigeria Football Federation Sani Toro was kidnapped on his way back to Bauchi from Abuja where he had attended the wedding ceremony of the daughter of the former NFF president Alhaji Aminu Maigari. The criminals demanded N60m ransom.

Many Nigerians are suffering deeper forms of depression after witnessing various forms of this violence in the country. One of such people highly agitated is Mr. Aihie who would gladly grab an opportunity to relocate to a place where peace reigns.

As a young graduate, Aihie had always dreamed on good jobs in Lagos or Abuja but he says his dreams have been turned upside down because of what Nigerians now suffer on daily basis.

‘And be sure the violence would get to the highest level during the election because a lot of people have been armed.’