Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel, Nigeria’s minister of sport and youth development, Sunday Dare, are among dignitaries expected to grace the opening ceremony of the 26th Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) sporting events.
The event officially kicks off today (Saturday) at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka.
While the vice-president was a lecturer at the university until his election in 2015, Messrs Sanwo-Olu and Emmanuel are among the university’s illustrious alumni.
This is as the host university – UNILAG, has said sound preparations have been made not only to host the biannual games but also to rank first on the log of champions.
The university’s vice-chancellor, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, who boasted in a chat with PREMIUM TIMES, said the games would serve many beneficial purposes including the meaningful engagement of the participating students whose lectures are currently on strike, and the discovery of talents for future opportunities for the country.
Mr Ogundipe, who said NUGA had served the talent hunting purpose for many sporting giants in the country in the past, said the decision to host the 12-day activities was born out of the desire of his administration to promote not only academic excellence but also extra-curricular activities such as sport.
He said; “One thing Nigeria does not lack is human resources, just as natural resources, but while the focus has been on the latter, we have not been able to dedicate time and energy to discover the huge deposit of talents in this country.
“NUGA is such an avenue to do that and I believe it has been doing that since its establishment. We need to engage the youths meaningfully and redirect their focus for the good of the nation.”
Mr Ogundipe added that all the facilities have been put in place to accommodate contingents from the 75 participating institutions and the 16 available games.
“All preparations have been made both on and off the campus. Since the university is a city institution, we want to take the advantage of the town and gown relationship to ensure that the participants also feel Lagos and not UNILAG alone.
“We thank the Lagos State Government for granting us the grace to use its many facilities and adequate security has also been provided while we also partner with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to ensure adequate compliance with the coronavirus protocol. It will be one of the best NUGA games held so far,” he added.
While inspecting some of the facilities for the GAMES recently, the VC said the swimming pool for the event is an Olympic size that has now been ranked the best in the country while other outdoor and indoor events are also said to have been blessed with new dedicated facilities.
He enjoined participants to live by the rules and compete with a spirit of sportsmanship, saying the avenue should also be used for networking and impact-driven engagements.
Meanwhile, a veteran broadcaster and an alumna of the university, Hameed Adio, has expressed delight that 44 years after he led UNILAG to victory at NUGA in 1978, he has been invited to carry the “Torch of Unity.”
He said; “44 years after leading UNILAG to excel at the NUGA GAMES by winning Gold medals in the 100, 200 and relay 4×100 metres when the institution hosted the Games in 1978, eggheads of the citadel of learning(host of the 26th Games) have invited yours truly to be the official Torch of Unity carrier at the Games…”
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