…Applauds the exploits of Police personnel in sport
…Commends Police role in fighting insurgency
…NDLEA warns athletes not to spike their system with drugs
…14th edition of Anambra Walk For Life held, presaging Police event
By Ndu Chris Nwannah, ATM Guest Writer, Joseph Nwiyi, ATM Reporter, Pamela Henry-Igwe, ATM Guest Writer, and Kenechukwu Chukwudi, ATM Guest Reporter
The Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka, capital of Anambra State, was filled to capacity on Saturday, 29 February as the President of Nigeria, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, declared the commencement of the 2020 Biennial Nigeria Police Games, the 12th edition of the fiesta, hosted this year in Anambra State. Ekwueme Square, used as venue for the event’s opening ceremony, wore a bright new look with diverse decorations depicting Nigeria’s national colours and the police colours. The atmosphere was electrifying with superb fireworks along the road leading to the Anambra State House of Assembly Complex and the state Judiciary Headquarters, Awka.
There were parades by special squads from the 12 Police Zonal Commands and Force Headquarters, even as the torch for the 2020 Nigeria Police Games was lit to the admiration of guests, participants, police chiefs, community and political leaders.
Declaring the games open, President Muhammadu Buhari whose address was delivered by the Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi, acknowledged the contributions of the police to sports development in the country. President Buhari said the event, coming at a time when the nation was battling insurgency, underscored the help rendered by the police in sustaining the nation through its participation in the war against terror in partnership with the military. He pledged the readiness of his administration in securing the nation.
President Buhari stressed that he would continue to prioritize the repositioning of the police because of their important role in national security. According to the President, it was due to this that he assented to the police funding bill to pool resources to enable the Force to tackle its challenges. He said that his administration had also approved the recruitment of 10,000 new personnel to boost Force performance. He commended the management of the police for its focus in delivering efficient security.
The President also spoke on police and citizens relationship, noting that it was in this regard that the concept of Community Policing was adopted to create a robust synergy with the public.
President Buhari urged the athletes to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship during the games. He advised them to break existing national records, set new ones and be ready to replicate such in the international arena. The President appreciated Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State for hosting the event as well as the warm reception accorded participants and officials.
Earlier, Governor Willie Obiano described sport as a uniting factor, stressing that it had the potential to bring together the country’s diverse backgrounds. Governor Obiano noted that Anambra had produced notable sport icons such as Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Mary Onyali, Emma Okala, Innocent Egbunike, Francis Obikwelu, among others. He emphasized that the games would have a great economic impact by adding value to numerous businesses in the area. According to him, it has the potentials to attract over ₦1.5 billion into the economy of the state.
▲ Governor Willie Obiano and IG Mohammed Abubakar at the opening ceremony
Governor Obiano was emphatic that the event would transform sports in the area. He pledged the readiness of his administration to sustain partnership with the police in the area of crime fighting.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, said he was happy over efforts to return the Police Games to its past glory. He called for partnership with governments, the private sector and institutions to sustain the games. Mr. Dare commended the police authorities for finding time within their tight schedule to engage in sports and charged all stakeholders to join hands to build a better future for the growth of sports in the country.
The Inspector General of Police, Mr Muhammed Abubakar, said that sports play a great part in the development of any nation. Mr. Abubakar stated that the games would no doubt help in the discovering of new talents that would represent the country in the future. He was happy that police personnel had excelled in the past, such as Chioma Ajunwa and late Sunday Bada among others. The Inspector General of Police noted that the Force was aiming to replicate the outstanding performances of the Police Machine teams in the past. He charged athletes to aspire to win laurels competitively. Mr. Abubakar expressed happiness over the investments made by Governor Willie Obiano to ensure the successful hosting of the games.
▲ Ijelle masquerade outing gracing the opening ceremony
The Chairman of the Central Organizing Committee of the Police Games, AIG Alkali Baba Usman commended efforts to promote sports development through the Police Games.
Multi-talented musician, Flavour, had a great performance as the crowd surged to savour his music. Harry Song also dished out beautiful melodies to entertain guests and contingents.
The Anambra Cultural Troupe was on hand to entertain the crowd with a parade of dancers depicting six ethnic nationalities in Nigeria: Igbo, Yoruba, Fulani, Hausa, Tiv and Efik.
The Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Dave Umahi, was represented by his deputy, Dr. Eric Igwe, while Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Gabriel Ajah.
Former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ogbonnaya Onovo, was also in attendance. Police DIGs and AIGs, including the Awka indigene DIG Celestine Okoye, also graced the occasion, along with numerous dignitaries.
Earlier, in a pre-event press briefing, the Commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Anambra State, Mr. Muhammad Idris Misbahu, had urged athletes participating in the Police Games not to abuse performance enhancing drugs to excel in the competition.
Speaking in Awka through the agency’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Charles Efosa Odigie, Mr. Misbahu emphasized that abusing performance enhancing drugs would increase the risk of high blood pressure, enlarged heart, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, stroke, dangerously high body temperatures and intense anger or paranoia.
He advised the athletes to use their God-given talents and abilities to perform in the games and achieve victory.
Prior to the opening ceremony, the 14th edition of the monthly fitness Anambra Walk For Life was undertaken, with ever more Ndi Anambra, taking part. The event presaged the 12th edition of the biennial Nigeria Police Games taking place in Anambra State this year.
The walk covered a distance of about 9.5 kilometers, starting from the open field opposite Governor’s Lodge Awka to Ekwueme Square Awka through the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, with refill points to keep participants hydrated.
Anambra indigenes and residents turned out in numbers to join the walk including the former Senator representing Anambra Central, Senator Victor Umeh, the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, Speaker of State House of Assembly, Honourable Uchenna Okafor and other prominent government personalities.
Speaking at the end of the walk, the Chairman of the Anambra State Sports Development Commission, Mr. Tony Oli, remarked that the walk was a way to welcome the Nigerian Police Force for their games holding in Anambra State, to feel the vibe and preparedness of the state to host the event, and to appreciate the governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, for his immense support.
Former Senator Victor Umeh, showed excitement for being part of the walk, emphasizing that hosting the Nigerian Police Games in the state shows the level of security the government has brought to the state and the governor’s fit and healthy team, which is commendable.
The Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Honourable Uchenna Okafor and Secretary to the State Government Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu noted that the state is very ready to host the Police Games, as every logistics and facility has been put in place, noting that the game will also increase economic activities in the state.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Vincent Okpala, reiterated their readiness to respond to emergency and any health challenge that might arise during the Police Games while her Basic Education counterpart, Prof. Kate Omenugha, revealed that school activities continues during the period of the games, dispelling rumours of closing schools for the games.
The game featured its regular ogene music, fruit breakfast and aerobic exercise at the end of the walk.