It is no news that the City of Warri has been the central focus of the Delta State Government in the past few months owing to the forth coming Africa Youth Championships to be hosted by the oil rich state.
The five-day event under the auspices of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) is the latest on the calendar of the continental body and targeted at athletes between the ages of 16-17 years. Hosting the 1st African Youth Athletics Championships scheduled to hold between March 27 and March 31, delta state government had set up an 11 man committee to ensure the success of the august event. Speaking at the briefing which held at the Delta State Liaison Office on Karimu Kotun Street in Victoria Island, Lagos, the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), Amaju Melvin Pinnick, noted that the state was ready to host a championship that will be remembered for Long.
His words: “We are ready in Warri to host the first edition of the Africa Youth Athletics Championship. Our stadium, our hotels and hospitals are world-class and ready to host the visitors. This is one championship that will restate Delta as the preferred destination for sports after hosting the African Women Championships on more than one occasion in the past”, he said.
Amaju who disclosed that the Delta State government had approved the sum of N300 million for the junior track and field championships, however, appealed to corporate Nigeria to support the hosting with whatever they can give.
“Delta State government has approved N300million for the LOC while the Delta State Oil Producing Commission (DESOPADEC) has also promised to build a warm-up track that is the first of its kind in West Africa at the Warri City Stadium for the use of athletes. We are however still calling on other corporate bodies to support our hosting”.
President of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Chief Solomon Ogba, confirmed that the Nigerian team would be selected after the final of Pastor D.K Olukoya U-18 National Championships which ends today (Friday) at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. “We will pick our team after the final of Olukoya championships and move the athletes to Port Harcourt for close camping. I want to assure that we will present a formidable team to the Africa Youth Championships. “In fact, this is the right platform we need to discover talents, what we have been using before now is trial and error,” Ogba said. He also made mention of the just bought Timetronics device for the Warri event. It is the first time that we will be using EDM (Estimated Distance Measurement) device in Nigeria. I’m happy that we are moving forward and AYAC 2013 will be of high standards,’’
It means that officiating officials will no longer use tapes to measure distances in events like Long Jump, Javelin etc. ’’Timetronics is the latest of them all. It is good that we have it now in Nigeria,’’ Yusuf Ali, holder of Nigeria’s Long Jump record said yesterday.
Meanwhile, the host country, Nigeria and other countries in the continent of Africa, including Algeria, Angola, Benin Republic, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros Island, Congo Kinshasa, are to battle for honours at the upcoming event.
Others include: Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda and Zimbabwe, the Gambia, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia and Mali, while Ghana is a notable absentee African Youth Athletics Championship.
Apart from Nigeria that has entered 80 athletes for most of the events to be competed for at the Warri 2013, Ethiopia comes a distant second with 42 athletes followed by South Africa to be represented by 30 athletes.
Egypt and Mali are tied on 24 athletes for the continental showpiece introduced primarily to encourage African countries to have ready pool of athletes in waiting to step into the shoes of those retiring. Some of the other top African nations coming to Nigeria for the junior meet include Senegal, Morocco, Kenya, Uganda, and Algeria.
“It takes men and women of nobility to appreciate that there is indeed ability in disability…" – these were the words with which Rt. Hon. (Engr.) Victor Ochei, Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly and Grand Patron of the Nigerian Wheelchair Basketball Federation (NWBF), sealed his vow to ensure that Nigeria makes her Wheelchair Basketball debut at the 2016 Paralympic games to be held in Rio, Brazil.
Hon. Ochei who is celebrated as an exemplary statesman and Sports enthusiast, made this pledge at the just concluded finals of the 2nd Victor Ochei International Wheelchair Basketball competition, where Lagos State beat defending champions, Delta State, in a masterful display of skill, discipline and good gamesmanship from both teams.
Commenting on the reason for his continued commitment to sponsoring the annual event, he attributed his resolve to the need to give physically challenged athletes a sense of belonging and a platform to showcase their potential to a society which continuously overlooks their significance.
He also plans to expand the popularity of the sport by organizing more awareness clinics, with the full support of the NWBF and putting forward a bigger and better third edition of the tournament.
It will be recalled that Nigeria has already participated in some Wheelchair Basketball competitions organized in Africa; including the 2007 All African Games in Algeria, the U-23 African Championship in South Africa in 2008, and the Senior Nation’s Cup in Morocco in 2012.
However, having Nigeria represented at the Rio Paralympics will serve to promote the popularity of the sport as well as secure worldwide accolades for the country in an area more recently dominated by countries like Canada, Australia and Brazil.
Currently ranked third in Africa despite challenges in funding and recognition, the Nigerian team eagerly awaits the opportunity to prove to Africa and the world that they are unmatched in spirit, skill and their unshakeable resolve for victory.
Assuredly, the Delta State Legislator does not stand alone in his dream to see Nigeria elevated through wheelchair basketball, as his selfless commitment has earned the support of the leadership of the NWBF, the Paralympics Committee and other sports devotees nationwide.
Education has often been described as the panacea for National Development due to its effectiveness as a tool for both social and economic growth. Quality education is without doubt the bedrock of a progressive people as it determines the capacity and quality of available manpower; an indication of potential productivity.
The effectiveness of education in the global acceleration of development and unlocking of hidden potential is perhaps best underscored by a saying credited to Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon that can be used to change the world”.
In Nigeria, the quality of education can be said to have deteriorated and is characterized by a lack of education infrastructure, non-conducive learning environment, poor remuneration of teaching staff etc; which have inevitably led to a decline in the standard of education across the country.
In a bid to improve the quality of education in Delta State, the administration of Governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan (CON), has embarked on a variety of initiatives designed to revive the education sector in the state.
The administration's efforts are remarkably and practically displayed in the massive provision of infrastructure in the schools; which include the erection of massive buildings, renovation and reconstruction of primary and secondary schools, provision of sport facilities, equipping of school libraries and computer centers among others.
Since inception, the government has built over 60 new Model Primary Schools and equipped them with modern teaching and learning aids. In the same vein, four new polytechnics are presently under construction in addition to the four existing ones, alongside the phased rehabilitation and reconstruction of all secondary schools in the state.
Beyond the provision of physical projects and learning materials in primary and secondary schools, the present administration as part of its efforts at accelerated development of the education sector, through the introduction of free education programmes at primary and secondary level, sponsorship of external exams at Secondary School level, and school-fee supplements in terms of a state bursary for indigenes at the tertiary level.
Apart from these initiatives, study grants and scholarships for the destitute and less privileged individuals are also provided by the government, as well as the much coveted Scholarship award for Deltans who graduate with a First Class Degree to facilitate further study up to Doctorate level.
In terms of the development of qualified and dedicated instructors to pass on the required knowledge, the government places a high premium on the employment, training and re-training of teachers and other academic staff.
The Uduaghan administration also adopts motivation strategies to encourage students and teachers to continually strive for excellence thereby further promoting qualitative education within the state. A recent example was the recent reward of a Toyota Corolla presented by Governor Uduaghan to Mr. Louis Akamaka, a teacher at West End Secondary School, who diligently led the literary session organised by the state Government.
The government has also taken bold steps in collaborating with private bodies to assist students effectively in the study for upcoming examinations.
These and many more strides by the Delta State Government in Educational development and the pursuit of excellence has led to the conferment of the title of "Best State Government in the Development of Basic Education for 2012" by the Institute for Government Research and Leadership Technology.