From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
The Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma, has highted sports as a great national unifier, stating that “all over the world nothing can unite a nation faster and better than sports.”
The governor spoke when he received the Torch of Unity of the National Sports Festival scheduled to hold in Delta State from November 28, 2022, in Government House Owerri, Monday.
Addressing enthusiastic sports men and women as well as Imo citizens who gathered to witness the ceremony, the governor said that the “origin of the National Sports Festival is a deliberate policy by the Federal Government to unite the various sections of Nigeria immediately after the Nigerian civil war in 1970,” noting that all the states are signatories to the policy.
Governor Uzodinma said that it is incumbent on every well-meaning Nigerian to support the policy and Imo State cannot be an exception.
He heartily welcomed all, both State and Federal Sports men and women present at the occasion to Imo State and assured that “as a signatory to the policy that birthed the National Sports Festival Imo State will not go back.”
The governor recalled that in 2020 the ceremony of Torch of Unity of the National Sports Festival was one of his first assignments as governor of Imo State and said it was heart warming that he is performing the same ceremony again in 2022.
He seized the opportunity to commend the Imo athletes for their commendable showing and performance in the recent Edo State sports festival and urged them to “do better in Delta State.”
Governor Uzodinma assured the audience that having received the Torch and signed into the programme his government will give all possible support for the festival to succeed.
He urged Imo athletes to adequately prepare themselves for the festival, noting that as the governor, he is waiting patiently for the day an Imo athlete will beat the records of Chioma Ajunwa, the first Nigerian Olympic Medalist.
He enjoined the athletes to put in their best and come out as heroes and occupy National space, reiterating that “sports is something we can get many things from such as heroes of nations, rich men and women and even best politicians.”
He urged all the intending participants from Imo to take the activity seriously as Imo ambassadors, go there with their shoulders high and bring the best medal that is available in each sporting event.
“I am waiting to receive so many Gold, Silver and Bronze medals from the participants.”
Making the presentation, a Director in the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Chief Mrs Jane Amaka Asiofo, said that the Torch of Festival started its movement on October 28, 2022, and that the team has covered the Northern States and is now in South East Nigeria.
She said when a State receives the torch, “it shows that such State has given her go-ahead and support to the festival.”
Mrs Asiofo thanked Governor Uzodinma for personally coming to receive the Torch and wished him well.
The Torch which was brought to Government House by the First Nigerian Olympic Medalist, Lady Chioma Ajunwa, was presented to the Governor by the Hon Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Hon Emeka Okoronkwo.
The high point of the programme was the governor’s symbolic running with the torch from his office to the entrance of Government House where he handed it back to the officials for movement to another State in the South East.