The University of Lagos, UNILAG, has presented the Torch of Unity for this year’s Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) Games to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to inform him about the games taking place from March 16-26.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe presented the torch to the Vice President at a brief ceremony on Thursday at the State House.
The University of Lagos hosted the sports event 24 years.
Professor Osinbajo described sport as “a great unifier,” saying “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.
According to him, the virtues of discipline, dedication, and teamwork, which are indispensable to success in every sporting endeavour, are reminders to what it takes to inspire the best in each other and to accomplish great things when people set their minds to the task.
Professor Osinbajo said; “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 Nigerian 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, 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 Vice President listed Nigerian Athletes who rose from the NUGA Games to become great in different sports in the world.
He said; “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 shinning 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.
He noted that Nigeria’s sporting history shows that everywhere the country excelled on the global stage there were athletes whose talents were nurtured in universities and given a competitive boost by NUGA at one time or the other.
Noting the socio-economic value of the NUGA games, Vice President Osinbajo encouraged the athletes who would be competing at this year and representing their respective universities to do so proudly and in true sportsmanship.
“This is only a prelude to bigger achievements and greater laurels for yourselves and for Nigeria,” he stated.
The VP said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was committed to ensuring that the athletes receive all the support they need at every stage of their careers.
Professor Osinbajo, an alumnus of the University of Lagos, commended the administration of the University for the work done to facilitate a successful tournament.
Nigeria’s Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, who was at the event, said that with the commitment to grassroots sports development and talent hunt, the greatest community that could produce talents for the country’s national teams would come from such sports fiesta as the NUGA Games.
He said; “So, we see here a great potential and that’s why as a ministry and as a government we latched on to bringing back the spirit of NUGA,” Dare said, adding “we look forward to the fact that we would find a lot of our talents that will eventually form the team that will go to the Commonwealth Games in July to represent this country.
10,000 athletes to compete
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Ogundipe, said not less than 10, 000 athletes would compete at the games.
He said that new dimensions would be brought into this year’s NUGA Games, claiming that the best of the games that was the one held by UNILAG in 1998.
Professor Ogundipe said that the 2022 NUGA Games would be a city sports, where the games would not be localized to the Akoka Campus of the UNILAG.
He said; “We are going to make use of the Teslim Balogun Stadium; we are going to make use of the Rowe Park…We want it to be such that the people that are coming from outside Lagos will feel the Lagos atmosphere.
“We are going to bring culture into it; we are going to bring so many other things into it.
The Vice Chancellor said that moving the games out of Akoka would mean that there would be lot of commercial activities around the Teslim Balogun Stadium that would make the people feel the impulse of the games.
He added that the games would also be used to showcase Nigeria’s talents to the world and correct the negative stories about the country.
NUGA Games: VP Osinbajo receives Torch of Unity from UNILAG