Come Saturday, February 29, 2020, at exactly 12 noon, the Nigeria Police 12th Biennial Games kicks off at the famous Ekwueme Square in the beautiful and serene city of Awka, the Anambra State capital. The historic event, which has as its theme “Promoting Community Policing through Sports,” will be declared open by the special guest of honour, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON. It will have in attendance, top government functionaries, traditional rulers, captains of industry, heads of security agencies, key stakeholders and the creme de la creme from the sports and youth development sectors, civil society organisations, the media, among others. The event will also have the executive governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief (Dr.) Willie Obiano, Akpokue Dike 1, as the chief host.
Over 3,000 male and female police athletes drawn from the 12 zonal commands and the Force Headquarters will feature and compete in 31 indoor and outdoor games, which include athletics, football, basketball, table tennis, lawn tennis, judo, taekwondo, weightlifting, golf, chess, squash, shooting, karate, swimming, hockey, badminton and handball, among other sporting events.
The games readily remind us of so many police personnel whose names are now etched in gold in the pantheon of sporting greats in the country and beyond. How can one ever forget the exploits and epochal feats of the likes of ACP Chioma Ajunwa, MON, Nigeria’s first Individual Olympic gold medalist, the late SP Sunday Bada, Olympic gold medalist, DSP Samuel Peter, former WBC heavyweight champion, and Inspector Igun, an outstanding police athlete who captained the Nigerian national team to many international competitions? He was a gold medalist in the triple jump at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica, as well as the African Games in Congo Brazzaville. Only recently, ASP Job Atabor became the first police officer to be titled Candidate Master of Chess, African Zonal Individual Chess Championship, Monrovia, Liberia 2017. Equally, Glory Charles, a police officer, distinguished herself during the African Zonal Individual Chess Championship, Accra, Ghana, 2019, ACP Margaret Ekpe, for five years national champion for Nigeria in discus and bronze medalist in the 1991 All Africa Games in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday Oyaekare, accomplished footballer who scored the first goal at the National Stadium, Lagos, during the opening of the stadium, boxer Durodola Olarewaju, the African Boxing Union champion at the February 1, 2020, won the African Boxing Union cruiserweight title bout with a TKO in Accra, Ghana, and former World Boxing Council silver cruiser weight of the world, and Ajayi Kikelomo Florence, former captain of Nigeria’s Super Falcons football team. She played and won six African Nations Cup, three World Cup tournaments and three Olympic Games, and George Usoro, the Nigeria Police officer that formed the Nigerian Volleyball team and participated in several Olympics qualifying and All Africa Games. This is just to mention but a few.
However, it needs be mentioned that in spite of the laudable accomplishments by these officers both within and outside the shores of the country, they, like the late DCP Ben Odiase, who composed the Nigerian National Anthem, have remained largely unsung. Yet, the Nigeria Police have continued to produce sportsmen that have always raised the bar wherever they have flown the flag of the nation.
This year’s Games, Anambra 2020, will yet again provide ample opportunity for relatively unknown police sportsmen to announce themselves, their talents and competences to the world. It will serve as a platform to discover sporting talents in the Nigeria Police who would re-enact the heroic and historic performances of our police legends.
The Games, apart from promoting camaraderie among police officers, will undoubtedly enhance the physical and mental fitness of the participants. Needless to state that, since policing is a physically and mentally demanding profession, sports have become a desideratum for every police officer.
The Inspector-General of Police, M.A. Adamu, NPM, mni, identifies with the unparalleled potential of sports in actualising the targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) such as good health and wellbeing, gender equality, sustainable cities and communities and in building strong institutions. He believes that the Police Games, a few weeks to the National Sports Festival in Edo State, will continue to provide the nation the opportunity to harness sports talents in the country, particularly as Nigeria prepares for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games and the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Anambra 2020 presents the police with the golden opportunity to engage communities and build goodwill with the general public in a manner that will fill the trust gap, strengthen confidence-building between the citizens and police and accelerate the attainment of our community policing goals towards improving our national security.
Our esteemed host, the dynamic and sports-loving governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, the government and the people of Anambra State, rest assured that this goodwill to host and sponsor the 2020 Police Games will further assist in integrating and re-uniting the police with the people. We have no doubt that Anambra State will take advantage of the opportunities the Games provides to project its tourism potential and commercial prowess, in addition to showcasing its rich cultural heritage and hospitable ambience to the world. It is hoped also that the event will help to fruitfully engage the minds of the youth in the area and arouse their interest in sports and policing.
Meanwhile, the chairman, Anambra 2020 Police Games Central Organizing Committee, AIG Usman Baba Alkali, mni, has, on behalf of the IGP, called on members of the public in Anambra State, the Light of the Nation, and other contiguous cities to come out en masse to the various centres where the fiesta will take place, Ekwueme Square, Awka, Otuocha Stadium in Anambra East LGA, Rojeny Games Village, Oba, in Idemili South, close to Onitsha, the NYSC Camp ground, where most of the indoor games will take place and the Police College, Orji-River, where the shooting competition will take place. He had pledged that this year’s games will provide an atmosphere for fun, enthusiasm and unparalleled record-breaking performances.
•Mba is a deputy commissioner of police and spokesman for the Nigeria Police Force