Nigeria’s number one chess player, Oladapo Adu has disclosed how relieved he is to finally get back home, after spending several days holed up in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire and stranded in the Francophone West African country due to a lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Adu was left stranded due to the consequent spread of flight cancellations and border closures occasioned by the onset of COVID-19 and he could not continue his trip home to Nigeria, which he started by road from Freetown, Sierra Leone after competing at the 2020 African Chess Championship.
However, megasportsarena.com gathered that, while alleging that Nigeria’s chess officials did not lend any assistance to him during all four months of his first stay in the Ivorian capital since 24th of March and he faced initial difficulties at the country’s embassy in Abidjan, Adu said he is not holding grudges against any one.
Instead of pointing accusing fingers or crying blue murder, Adu, who had travelled from the USA to Freetown, Sierra Leone in order to represent Nigeria at a zonal chess championship, stressed that he remains ever so grateful to his ‘forced hosts’ that harboured him adequately all through his stay, following his arrival in their midst after the competition ended on March 20.
He narrated how he had to stay with friends of Cote d’Ivoire’s representative in the same zonal competition, Simplice Delgundo, after which he later moved in with an Ivorian family; all of who he stressed took good care of him, though he was disappointed that none of the officials at Nigeria Chess Federation (NCF) spoke to him.
Dramatically, they went on to enlist him for an Online Chess Olympiad competition while he was still stranded in Abidjan, and he put aside all bitterness to return home to compete in the event, which runs until August 30.
He also pointed out that his return home was eventually secured through Nigeria’s ambassador to the West African country, Mohammed Gana, who was prompted to intervene after several reports of Adu’s case appeared in the media and then proceeded to arrange a return flight for the chess player and 30 other Nigerians that had been stranded in Abidjan.
Adu told BBC Sport Africa: “It’s nice to be back home – I feel relieved and happy this is all over. I have never had an experience like this in my life. It was tough living with strangers in a strange land – having to depend on them for your survival.
“I am grateful to them. They took care of me for months even when it was not convenient for them. At the time I was enlisted, the Chess Federation did not even know of my whereabouts – I was still stranded in Abidjan when I was selected to represent Nigeria.
“The ambassador said he was not aware of my situation until he got some pressure from Nigeria to get me out of Ivory Coast. He said my case had been on the news and he knew he had to intervene.”