Veteran athletics coach Tobias Igwe has decried the ill-treatment meted out to him which led to his sudden retirement at Abia State Sports Ministry.
Igwe worked as an athletics coach during his 13 year stay but was asked to leave 3 years to his retirement without any gratuity or pension. He was a victim of the immediate past administration of Governor Theodore Orji’s controversial sack of non-indigenes from Abia State civil service.
Toblow as his fondly called was assistant director in the Abia State Sports Council until his sudden retirement.
The 64 year old narrated his ordeal to ACLSports,” Abia State disengaged us non indigenes, it reflected in sports and I was badly affected. It has now affected having any good or outstanding athlete from the East. It’s declining and you can’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg,” he said.
Toblow continued,”I was removed as non indigene six or seven years ago and I have not gotten pay since then. It’s affecting me financially and my health.I didn’t believe it would happen to someone like me that has contributed a lot in athletics development.”
Igwe flashed back on similar treatment experienced while he was in Enugu. An indigene of Isiala Mbano in Imo State, he faulted his State for also neglecting him.
“I was thinking my State (Imo state) will do something or even the national body. Similar treatment happend to me in January, 1997 while working in Enugu State I was told to go because I was not an indigene. I wasn’t paid, then i left to work in Abia State worked there for 13 years. Though I was not owed by the Abia State Government, but no gratuity was given or plan for pension. I was laid off alongside Olympic champion Uche Emedolu and Stanley Ojobasi, first man from East of the Niger to win the Senior Open 3000m steeplechase from Enugu. Mine was painful because it was close to my retirement age.”
“Look at Imo where l come from athletics is dead there, they don’t have athletes.I have applied there, they know my plight, I am from Isiala Mbano, heart of Imo State. They are very talented but the Eastern people will only project football like it is the only sports we know then what happens to athletics? Igwe asked.
The former 800m, 1500m and 3,000 steeplechase champion has groomed numerous athletes in Nigeria which includes Chief Mary Onyali, Osmaond and Davidson Ezinwa, Tony Osheku, Philip George, Yusuf Alli, Henry Amike, Sunday Uti, Tina Iheagwam, Clement Chukwu, Beatrice Utondu, Emma Okoli, Michael Egbeaso, Henrietta Ajaegbu, Eugene Ifediora and Uche Emedolu amongst others.