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Sports: Still A Long Way To Greatness

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Sports has become more than a recreational and entertainment activity across the world. It has indeed, transformed into a powerful tool for most countries to forge and achieve many national goals, be it political, economic, social or national integration.
Nigeria by all standard, ought to be one of the best sporting nations of the world considering the physiological endowment of her people, the large human capital and apparent abundance of internationally acclaimed administrators and economic opportunities at her disposal.
However, despite the front-row standing of sports in the reckoning of most Nigerians and the fact that it has, over the years acted as one of the strongest unifying factors obtainable in the country, the sector seems not to have made the level of progress expected of it.
In fact, sports, generally, has flattered to deceive more often than not and at the best of times flourished in sparks and sports.
Sixty years down the line, sports in the country can hardly be classified neither as a massive success nor a monumental failure.
Most stakeholders are of the opinion that the country, as the self acclaimed giant of Africa, should have by now became the beacon and leading sporting nation in the continent, as well as a serious contender for laurels at every international meet.
Unfortunately, despite taking part in the Olympic Games since 1952, eight years before independence and having been part of the world’s greatest sports rendezvous 17 times, the country can only boast of a mere 25 medals, three gold, 10 silver and 12 bronze medals, a haul some smaller and less endowed countries have been harvesting in one or two outings.
The record and the country’s inability to have made it beyond the Second Round of the FIFA World Cup underlines her failure to harness the enormous human capital to compete successfully among the comity of nations.
As the country marks her 60 years of independence and reminisces over her tortuous journey since 1960, it is pertinent to note that though she has not lived up to her potentials yet in sports, the sector still remains one of the country‘s most potent agents of unity, a serious diplomatic tool and an elixir for the citizenry in their daily efforts to escape the trauma and challenges of life.
In the Dream Team to the Atlanta ’96 Olympic Games, the Golden Eaglets, Police Woman Chioma Ajunwa, Emmanuel Ifeajuna, who while still a student gave Nigeria her first Commonwealth. Games medal in high jump in 1954, Hogan ‘Kid’ Bassey, who emerged World Featherweight Boxing Champion in 1957, Dick Tiger Ihetu, who won the middle Weight title and later moved up to become the World Light Heavyweight Champion, as well as Michael Okpala (Power Mike), Nigeria has had some athletes and teams, who had at different times ruled the world.
Also, the country, in late Orok Oyo, Habu Gumel, Amos Adamu, Sani Ndanusa, Violet Nwajei-Odogwu, Awoture Eleaye, Late Abraham Ordia, Late Patrick Okpomo, Solomon Ogba, Amaju Pinnick among others, has produced sports administrators that made international impact.
Apart from athletes and administrators that have impacted the world of sports in the past 60 years of nationhood, Nigeria has hosted key continental and global sports competitions. These include the All Africa Games which has been hosted twice in 1973 in Lagos and 2003 in Abuja, African Cup of Nations, twice, in 1980 and 2000, while the country has also played host to the African Women Nations Cup thrice, in 1998, 2002 and 2006.
Nigeria has also hosted FIFA World Cup events twice when in 1999 she staged the FIFA U-20 World Cup, popularly called Nigeria ‘ 99 and the FIFA U-17 World Cup 10 years later in 2009.
The period between the 1980s and 1990s could be referred to as the golden era for Nigeria. This was when the top 10 in sprints and middle distance races would not be mentioned in Africa and globally without at least three to four Nigerians being in the line up. It was also a time when the country broke its duck and won the African Cup of Nations for the first time, after hosting the Championship in 1980.
The era threw up iconic stars across different sporting fields such as Mary Onyali, Falilat Ogunkoya, Tina Iheagwam, Chioma Ajunwa, Chidi Imo, Innocent Egbunike, Yusuf Alli, Henry Amike, Adeniken Olapade, the Ezinwa brothers (Davinson and Osmond) Beatrice Utondu, Mary Tombiri, Oluchi Ogwo, Christy Opara-Thompson, Moses Ugbesien, Fatima Yusuf and Olusoji Fasugba.
Others include, Peter Konyegwachie, Ikpoto Eseme, Ironbar Bassey, Brown Ebewele, Gabriel Okon, Segun Toriola, Funke Oshonaike, Bose Kaffo, Hakeem Olajuwon, Atanda Musa, Nduka Odizor, David Imonite and a plethora of football stars.
In football, the country has made more in roads than others fields. After wining the African Cup of Nations in 1980, it qualified for the final of a FIFA world tournament for the first time in 1983 when the national U-20 team qualified for the Youth World Cup in Mexico.
The Flying Eagles beat Russia, drew with Holland and lost 0-3 to Brazil to fail to advance from the Group stage.
Two years later, Nigeria made it to the maiden FIFA U-17 Kodak tournament in China. The cadet team under the tutelage of coach Sebastian Brodericks Imasuen stunned the world as they stormed to the title in grand style.
To be continued

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Again, RSG Begins Unveiling, Flag-Off Of Nine Key Projects, ’Morrow

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The Rivers State Government has rolled out the drums to herald another phase of official commissioning of key projects embarked upon by the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration in the state.
A statement by the state government said that the process is in continuation of the commissioning and flag-off of projects by Governor Nyesom Wike.
It indicated that Rumuola flyover would be commissioned tomorrow, while the GRA flyover would be commissioned on Saturday.
The also stated that the government would commission the Ezimgbu Road on Monday, December 13, 2021; with another commissioning of Tombia Road Extension scheduled for Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
The statement said that the governor would commission the Safe Home, Borikiri, Port Harcourt on Wednesday, December 15; while on Thursday, December 16, 2021, the governor would commission the Odokwu internal roads.
Also, the governor would continue the flag-off of key infrastructure projects with Chokocho-Igbodo Road slated for Monday, December 20, 2021; Oyigbo-Okoloma Road on Wednesday, December 22, 2021; and Magistrates’ Court Complex, Port Harcourt on Thursday, December 23, 2021.

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Group Urges Buhari To Inaugurate NDDC Board

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Following the delay in the inauguration of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) substantive board, the Ijaw Interest Advocates (IIA) has again asked President Muhammadu Buhari to take charge, absolve himself from the minister’s delay tactics and inaugurate the NDDC Governing Board.
In a statement, President of IIA, also known as Izanzan Intellectual Camp, Amb. Salaco Yerinmene, told Buhari to immediately inaugurate the NDDC substantive board to avert the looming crisis in the region.
According to him, “for long, we have observed that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godwin Akpabio’s tactics to perpetrate illegality in NDDC is for personal financial gains.”
The president of the group, Salaco, who said Akpabio has done more harm to NDDC than ever, accused Akpabio of toying with the commission, adding that Buhari should distance himself from his activities if he was not selective in the fight against corruption in the country.
The Ijaw advocates added: “Akpabio is only a supervisory minister and that does not mean he alone owns the commission. Major stakeholders, well-meaning leaders and people of the Niger Delta are supposed to be part of the NDDC but today Akpabio has sidelined them.”
The group queried what the minister is doing with the money that comes to NDDC because contractors are not paid as contractors have pulled out of site.
It would be recalled that the Association of Contractors of the Niger Delta Development Commission (ACNDDC), had last Thursday, embarked on a protest march at the premises of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Abuja, and decried the ongoing mismanagement of monthly funds accruing to the commission, and appealed to the Federal Government to pay outstanding debts it owes NDDC contractors.
Salaco regretted that “the commission has been largely engaged with internal matters and has been redundant since Akpabio took over two years ago and one will expect that so many saving would have been made but empty treasury is the reality.”
The group, however, warned that “some key stakeholders who have been involved selflessly and silently in making efforts for peace in the region are almost giving up gradually on their peaceful roles mainly because of lack of sincerity from the Presidency. Well-meaning Niger Delta persons, groups, traditional and government authorities have made inputs by advising the President to ignore Akpabio and do the right thing.”
Salaco regretted that “the multi-national companies are now suffering silently, they have been exposed to confront host communities on their own. Nigeria as a major oil producing nation cannot meet up their OPEC production quota just because of some selfish individuals who want to line up their pockets with funds meant to sustain peace and development of a sensitive region like the Niger Delta.”
Izanzan Intellectual Camp, therefore, advised that “President Buhari should not take the role of stakeholders, mostly the various ethnic nationality representatives who are silently maintaining peace in the Niger Delta region for granted. It is in the best interest of the government led by President Buhari to Ignore Akpabio, and do the bidding of the people for peace, development and progress of the region especially now that the unrest deliberately fuelled by Akpabio is yet to explode.”
It would be recalled that Buhari had promised the nation on June 24, 2021, while receiving the Ijaw National Congress (INC) at the State House in Abuja, that the NDDC Board would be inaugurated as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted.
The president said: ‘‘Based on the mismanagement that had previously bedevilled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result is expected by the end of July, 2021. I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC Board will be inaugurated.”
However, the forensic audit report has been submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari since September 2, 2021, prompting the Ijaw National Congress (INC) to caution that “any further delay in the inauguration of the NDDC Board is a clear betrayal of trust and display of state insensitivity on Ijaw nation and Niger Delta region.”

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Police Nab Three Dowen College Students Over Sylvester’s Death

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The Lagos State Police Command, yesterday, arrested three students of Dowen College in connection to the death of Sylvester Oromoni Jnr.
Lagos Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, also confirmed that three out of the five students were already in custody, while two were currently at large.
This is as one week after the death of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni Junior; the Parents’ Forum of the school has demanded justice and also a change in the school management.
It would be recalled that late Sylvester Oromoni had mentioned five senior students allegedly responsible for the injuries he sustained when he was attacked at the Dowen College.
Sylvester was allegedly attacked by senior students of Dowen College, where he reportedly sustained internal injuries that resulted in his demise.
Over 100,000 had signed petitions to prosecute the perpetrators of the sad incident.
The Lagos State Government has since shut down the school, while the police have also commenced investigation into the matter.
However, one week after the death of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni Junior, the Parents’ Forum of the school has demanded justice and also a change in the school management.
The parents also demanded a change in hostel teachers and the installation of CCT cameras in the school.
The decisions were reached at an online meeting. In strong words against the death of the 12- year -old student, the parents said justice for Sylvester is justice for all and insisted that those involved should be brought to book.
A statement, yesterday, signed on behalf of the parents’ forum by Aituaz Kola-Oladejo, Waheed Adeoye, Oluwaseun Bolanle Ajila and Kingsley Kema Agu, reads: “This will not only bring this unfortunate incident to a closure for the family but will also serve as a deterrent to other juvenile delinquents in all schools in Nigeria.”
The parents demanded a change of school management team, hostel teachers, installation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in all strategic places and overhaul of the school security system.
They decried the incident, and urged the school management team and other stakeholders to cooperate with the authority in the ongoing investigation into the death of Sylvester.
The parents’ forum agreed to organise candlelight on today, at Dowen College, adding “the lighting of candles is to pay tribute to a life ‘passed’, and keeping the light burning signifies that the memory still lives on and burns bright.
“Dowen College parents are startled and deeply saddened by the unfortunate incident that led to the death of Sylvester Oromoni. Our hearts go out to the family of the deceased and pray to God to give them the strength to bear the irreparable loss.
“As parents of Dowen College students, we are still in shock and could not come to terms with this incident and the accounts so far provided by the school management, students and the media.
“We are, however, temporarily relieved by the swiftness with which the authorities intervened and commenced investigation towards unravelling the cause of Sylvester Oromoni’s death.
“We urge the school management team and other stakeholders to fully cooperate with the authority in the ongoing investigation. While we would have loved to bring Sylvester back, if humanly possible, unravelling the cause of his death and bringing whoever was responsible or might have contributed in whatever way to book, will not only bring this unfortunate incident to closure for the family but will also serve as a deterrent to other juvenile delinquents in all schools in Nigeria.
“On our part as parents, we will work more closely with the school (management/board) to ensure that necessary measures are put in place to prevent recurrence of this unfortunate incident and stamp out bullying in any form from the school.
“We will also continue to appeal to parents, through all available means, to show more interest in what their children do and who they associate with in school and at home.
“We appeal to the public to see this incident as an inflexion point, not only for Dowen College but also other schools in Nigeria, as recent events have shown that bullying, molestation and other vices among students are common in our schools.
“Therefore, we rely on the authorities for justice regardless of the social status of whoever is involved.
“What happened to Sylvester could have happened to any other child in the school. To many of the traumatised students, Sylvester was a classmate, a roommate, a schoolmate or a friend.
“We, therefore, earnestly ask for a resolution that will bring some relief to the bereaved family, other parents, students of Dowen College and the public. These should include a change of the school management and hostel teachers, installation of Closed Circuit Television cameras in all strategic places and overhauling of the school security system.

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