Nigerian gold medalists (LtoR) Blessing Okagbare, Joy Udo-Gabriel, Rosemary Chukwuma and Tobi Amusan, celebrate after winning the women’s 4x100m relay during the 21st African Senior Athletics Championship at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta State in midwestern Nigeria on August 3, 2018. The five-day biennial African Senior Athletics Championship has got underway at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta State in midwestern Nigerian. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP
Former Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan has described as a big inspiration his inclusion on the list of prominent personalities to be honoured by the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC). Uduaghan was on Wednesday listed as one of the NOC patrons to be honoured for their contributions to the Olympic movement.
Uduaghan, whose tenure as governor in Delta State witnessed massive results in the sports sector, was listed alongside former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Oba S. A Elegushi, Gbong Gwon Jos, Da Jacob Buba Gyang, Sir Mark Wabara, Dr. Zainab Bagudu, Major-General Adamu Dyeri (rtd), M. A. Abubakar and Alhaji Bashari Mohammed Gumel by the NOC for its investiture ceremony for patrons on October 23 in Lagos.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Uduaghan, who is aspiring for Delta South Senatorial ticket under the APC in the 2019 elections, said his inclusion on the list was an indication that the NOC took proper records, and also appreciated the work he did for sports while he was governor of Delta State.
“There is always a reward for anything you do in life, good or bad. While I was Governor of Delta State, some people accused me of paying so much attention to the sports sector. But I refused to back down because sports is one of the avenues to prepare the youths for future challenges. I was an athlete in my youthful days, and I enjoyed every bit of the sector as governor because Team Delta actually got the results we wanted. I will continue to play my role by giving Nigerian youths the motivation they need to excel in national and international competitions,” Uduaghan stated.
As patrons of the Olympic Movement, the honourees will become iconic international sports personalities, carrying the emblem of Nigeria globally.
One bold step Uduaghan took shortly after he assumed office as governor of Delta State in 2007 was the creation of Delta Sports Commission, which gave sports activities a professional and institutional leverage.
Team Delta was able to continue its dominance in the National Sports Festival, winning at KADA 2009, second at Garden City 2011 and champions at Eko 2012.
Uduaghan’s administration also saw Delta winning the National Channel’s Kids Cup in Lagos in 2013, while Warri Wolves qualified for the finals of the 2014 Federation Cup, the first time in thirty years by any male club from the state. His passion for sports led to the revival of secondary school football competition by staging the biggest Governor’s Cup competition ever among public schools in 2013 and 2014.
His cash motivation for athletes gave the likes of Blessing Okagbare, Ese Brume and Divine Oduduru the backing they needed to excel at various competitions.