Presentation Of Torch Of Unity For The 2022 Tournament Of Nigeria University Games Association On 10/02/2022

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I must say that I am truly honoured to be receiving this Torch of Unity, and I would especially like to thank the hardworking Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe and his team for the honour.


As a proud alumnus of UNILAG, it is heart-warming to see us hosting the Nigeria University Games Association (NUGA) again, 24 years after a highly successful and colourful outing in 1998. And I am more than certain that you will bring the capacity for delivering excellence, which UNILAG is known for, to bear on the games again this year.


Sport has always been a great unifier; it offers us an opportunity to step outside our sometimes contentious divisions to embrace one another in support of our teams or in healthy competition and camaraderie. The virtues of discipline, dedication, and teamwork, which are indispensable to success in every sporting endeavour, remind us of what it takes to inspire the best in each other and to accomplish great things when we set our minds to the task.


As our young men and women, from universities across Nigeria, gather in Lagos in March to compete in a range of sporting events, we will once again get a chance to see the abundance of talent that makes Nigeria such a special country indeed.


For years, the Nigeria University Games Association has not only provided a space that allows us to see the value that every part of the country has to offer, but it has also provided a platform for the discovery and honing of individual sporting talent, many of whom have gone on to represent Nigeria successfully on the world stage.


The now-legendary Nigerian goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, who we fondly remember for his role in leading the Super Eagles to victory in the 2013 Nations Cup, and who in his prime was considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world, was once a university athlete and a proud product of NUGA’s talent pipeline.


Olusoji Fasoba, who won 100 meters gold, running for the Obafemi Awolowo University at NUGA many years ago, eventually went on to anchor Nigeria’s bronze medal win in the 4 x 100 meters relay race at the 2004 Olympic Games and is now the current African record holder for the 100 meters race.


And of course, there is Olabisi Afolabi, the famed NUGA alumnus from Ilorin, who helped Nigeria to a silver medal in the 4 x 400 meters at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the highlight of a very successful athletic career which included gold at the World Junior Championships in 1994, silver at the 1999 All-Africa Games, and bronze at the 1995 All-Africa Games.


How can we forget Chika Chukwumerije? A shining symbol of excellence and commitment to craft, who inspired by his gold medal-winning performance at the 2002 and 2004 NUGA games, would go on to represent Nigeria at two Olympic finals and earn us our first taekwondo medal at the Olympics.


Dig through Nigeria’s sporting history and almost everywhere we have excelled on the global stage, you will find athletes whose talents were nurtured in our universities and given a competitive boost by NUGA at one time or the other. Former Super Falcons Captain and goalkeeper Precious Dede; Nkiru Okosieme; Edith Agoye; Adeolu Adekoya who competed for UNILAG; the famous Mutiu Adepoju who played for the University of Ibadan, and Seyi Olonfijana who competed for LAUTECH once upon a time. And then there was Edema Fuludu who played for UNIBEN and became a key part of the Super Eagles winning squad in 1994; Akinshola Simeon and Aminat Ilori, both from LASU, who now play for our national Badminton team. Olumide Oyedeji who went on to become an NBA star and later captained the Nigerian National Basketball team, D’Tigers; and so many others.


Indeed, the socio-economic value of the NUGA games is not lost on us. We encourage the athletes who will be competing this year and representing their respective universities to do so proudly and in true sportsmanship but will also realise that their achievements there are a prelude to greater achievements and laurels for themselves and for Nigeria.


As an administration, we are committed to ensuring that you receive all the support you need at every stage of your exceedingly promising careers.


We commend the administration of UNILAG led by its able VC for all the work you have done to facilitate a successful tournament. We trust Lagos to give us a show like no other. We are, after all, Eko for Show!


God bless you all and thank you very much.