When I saw the fixture that Rivers United will be playing in their CAF Confederation Cup match against the Tanzanian side, Young Boys, I knew I had to be there.
We decided to drive down, courtesy of the famous Bolt man, Victor Kwame Sampong and on the trip would be Peter Abaje of Ray Power/ AIT, Jessica Amadi, Media Officer of Rivers Angels FC, and Faith Oluchi, Media Officer of Nigeria’s girls, U17 National Team.
Peter shocks us all and escapes danger.
Peter Abaje has a reputation for not keeping to time and if Peter is on your trip and you have a fixed time for departure, chances are, he was going to be late.
But we were leaving on Sunday morning and he had called that he would join us from church. We agreed that the departure time would be 9 am and he will be picked up from the Obiri Ikwerre interchange (If you know Port Harcourt well). But Peter called me at 17 minutes to 9 to know if I was on my way. I was the late person this time as I left the house at 10 minutes past 9 and had to stop by my office to get my selfie camera stand. Peter told us of a vehicle that was circling around the interchange. He said, after a few rounds, the vehicle suddenly stopped a few metres in front of him then started reversing and he saw a side window go down, panicked and thought they were probably kidnappers. He said he unzipped his bag, put his right hand in it and was bringing out his tripod stand that could look like a rifle when the vehicle sped off. He was only too relieved until we arrived and picked him up. Then we got Jessica and then Faith. It was time to head to Uyo. Jessica was at Ada George Road, while Faith Oluchi was picked at Artillery.
We had to drive back to Garrison to get petrol from the Mobil petrol station before our departure.
The police and the spate of highway robberies
It took me 29 years to watch 1000 games but in the last five years, I have only been able to achieve 100 games and the reason for this is that I have slowed down a lot on travelling, because of the bad roads and insecurity too. Most of all, as Media Officer of Dolphins FC, I was guaranteed to watch at least 45 games a year, then by the time you add a few Sharks, Rivers Angels, Enyimba and Super Eagles games I used to watch as many as 75 games in some years.
Ever since I left Rivers United and joined Go Round FC, I stopped attending away games and chose just games in Omoku and Port Harcourt, and the occasional Uyo.
As we exited Rivers State through the Ogoni area, as usual, there were too many police checkpoints. In fact, at Taabaa, we saw a checkpoint every 200 metres. At one of the checkpoints, the policeman told us to be careful as there had been robberies ongoing for the past few hours. In fact, he said a lot of vehicles had to park and wait, then drive in convoy. Such scary stuff. But Nigerians never believe anything bad is their portion, so we drove on, believing it would not be our portion to be stopped by highway robbers.
We got into Uyo with less than 30 minutes to kick off, headed straight to the hotel, got a change of clothes and just walked into the VIP section of the stadium as the game kicked off.
Rivers United and the real highlights of the game
No jokes, it was a very interesting game and both sides played really well. Rivers United had control of the first half, and knocked the ball around a lot, but they obviously forgot that all that foreplay without penetration cannot exactly be called good sex, can it?
I think the Rivers United players were more interested in the foreplay, and not the real thing because they were not penetrating. I did not see shots at goal nor on target, and when Nyima Nwagua upfront got the ball, he was alone and tried to force his way in, like a hard male member trying to go into a female member that was not ready. It was a sad sight. I also noticed that the Rivers United midfield was not as fluid as it should be. The players laboured to control the ball. They were like weightlifters on a football field. The touches were heavy, but they trudged on until Yanga Boys perfected their plan. Two well-taken goals, the second off a perfect counterattack, and it was over. But these were not the highlights of the match to me.
Sitting in the same sector of the Stadium were journalists from Port Harcourt who had come to watch the game. There were Sarah Davids (Wave FM), Cyril Dum Wite (Atlantic TV and Wish FM), Marit Jay (Super FM), Ezinne (Today FM), Dorcas Koki (Nigeria Info FM), Olalekan Ige (Independent Monitor) and Sammy Wejinya (Beat/ Naija FM). Temple Ekpor from Wish FM and Atlantic TV was also there, as well as Tonye Orabere of the Tide and many more but I cannot name them all. They all offered me seats close to them, but I chose not to. I went up there where the cameraman, Azunda Wobo was and just stood there, above Ige, Wejinya and Cyril Wite.
I enjoyed the very animated Sammy Wejinya complaining about almost every Rivers United move that was poor. I listened to him and Olalekan Ige argue over what was a good and a poor move. I heard Cyril Wite make sarcastic comments about the game that were killing me
I saw Victor Ikpeba walk in, looking for a seat and he took place next to Ademola Olajire, the NFF’s Director of Communications. Sarah Davids got up to take a selfie photo with him.
Below, on the left, was Emeka Nwani sitting next to Davidson Owumi. I walked down for some handshakes just before halftime. Davidson Owumi was sweating and I asked him, “Oga, is this tension?”
And he replied in the affirmative.
“But why are you tensed about this game?”
“I’m a Nigerian o. And it is a Nigerian team, so I must be tensed,”
Chief Felix Anyansi was seated next to them and then Alhaji Abba Yola. It was great to see all these people who would naturally just interact with me via WhatsApp and telephone call.
I strolled back up and met Victor Ezeji who was in Cairo recently, and I teased him that he had been so proud and haughty since his return from Cairo and he agreed with me.
At one end of the sector were top ex-footballers- Sam Ledor, the Sharks and Rangers legend, Sam Agams, the former Sharks and Enyimba goalkeeper, Itoro Akpan, the barrel-chested former Sharks defender. There were top footballers all around me, and they all came around to share a word or two, but Rivers United had lost. Tough luck
Resort Carabana and the Uyo nightlife
Me and Victor Ikpeba
As we drove out of the stadium, I got a call from George Essien, also known as Mighty George. He ran the show at Comfort FM and he wanted to know where I was.
I thought he wanted to invite me over to be a guest on this sports show, which he usually does. I told him I was on my way to my hotel and he wanted me to turn around and meet him at Resort Carabana, around the Nwaniba area. I told him I would come, but had to get to the hotel first.
At the resort, there was Victor Ikpeba well seated, George himself, the owner of FC One Rocket, Indomitable, real name, Otuekong Nse Essien. Indomitable is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation. We (Go Round FC) had an issue with his club last season. I walked up to him, introduced myself and the Go Round FC Club Secretary and we continued to chat.
I was offered a bottle of Hennessy and Ghanaman, Victor Kwame Sampong screamed out, “He does not drink alcohol o!”
Who sent this Ghanaman sef?
Victor Ikpeba would hear none of it. He swore that I was a drinker. George Essien would not agree. He said he had used bottles with me over and over again. I just smiled. George continued to argue with Ghanaman that he (Ghanaman) was a small boy and did not know how long he (George) had known me and the kinds of things we had done together. All I did was continue to laugh while George Essien and Victor Ikpeba insisted I drink Hennessy because they knew I drank it.
I was asked what I wanted and it was a bottle of Red wine (Sweet) which I shared with Ghanaman.
Victor Ikpeba would not let me be. He continued to tease me that I was drinking a woman’s drink.
The fish we ordered took its time in coming, and when it did, we devoured it as quickly as possible.
Felix Anyansi Agwu, the chairman of Enyimba Football Club and Gbenga Elegbeleye, the chairman of the Interim Management Committee of the Nigeria Professional Football League came in to join the party and I noticed something.
Indomitable ordered a bottle of Glenfiddich. Anyansi picked it up, tapped his host on the shoulder, and pointed out something to him on the label. They both looked at it and discussed it for a few seconds. I wondered what it was that they were discussing. Indomitable called for the bottle to be returned and another bottle of Glenfiddich brought in. Men Dem!
I wondered what Anyansi saw that was worrisome.
Tonye Orabere, Peter Abaje and Temple Ekpor were already calling me. There was supposed to be a sit-out at our own hotel so I had to leave and join them there.
When I arrived, Prince Worlu from Salvation TV, Tonye Orabere, Peter Abaje and Ibisaki Igani were already waiting. Faith Oluchi joined us later and we sat out with Brandy, Palmwine, soft drinks and suya. Don’t ask me what I drank.
Uyo has still got it. It is a nice place to be