26th NUGA Games: Top dignitaries emphasise a united Nigeria – Premium Times
NUGA Opening Ceremony The 26th edition of the Nigerian Universities Games, NUGA flagged on Saturday, March 19 at the University of Lagos sports complex, Akoka. NUGA, which has served as the medium for Nigerian students from different tertiary institutions to compete in different sporting events began with a colourful opening ceremony that included several displays of dancing steps from students. The host venue, the University of Lagos, had in volume the presence of top dignitaries and officials from the sporting world, academic settings, and political class who graced the event. Amongst the dignitaries present were the Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Femi Gbajamiala, Pro-Chancellor, Senator Lanre Tejuoso, Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Noimot Salako-Oyedele, and the representative of the Lagos State Governor, Mr Sola Aiyepeku, and many more. The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and the Mountain of Fire Ministries was represented by Pastor Jaiyeoba from region one and Godwin Enahekna respectively while Pastor Tunde Bakare and his wife also graced the event. The ceremony started with the acknowledgement of top dignitaries present, and then the National Anthem and host’s school anthem were rendered. The competition also had hundreds of student-athletes that represented 75 schools for the 16 available events. Afterwards, the universities present paraded their contingents alphabetically in a ceremonial march past. The NUGA President, Professor Stephen Hamafyelto, who led scholars to the event, spoke about the unity the competition seeks to foster. Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, expressed his delight at the achievement to organize NUGA seven years after it was last held at the University of Port Harcourt. The professor also added that the University has made the competition colourful and of high standards than it used to be before. The Pro-Chancellor of the University, Lanre Tejuosho, emphasised how college life should preach peace and harmony amidst Nigeria’s different ethnic groups. The group executive director of GTCO, Segun Agbaje admonished athletes to make the best use of the sports facilities. Sunday Dare in his address said NUGA will be a medium to select athletes for World Universities Games in July and the Commonwealth Games in June. The speaker of the House of Representatives, who is an Alumnus of the University, Femi Gbajabiamila eulogised the great number of students present at the ceremony. Honourable Gbajabiamila said; “Today is a gathering of young men who are here to exhibit, bound together, to show their God-given talent in their capacities. I’m gratified that this is happening after seven years with a total of over 70 universities here tonight and about 14,000 athletes.” He continued; “Nelson Mandela said the sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, has the power to unite people. It speaks in a language they understand, we will be hearing and listening to the language of sport in the next seven to eight days, where we are going to see talents. “This is going to be a harvesting ground to recruit athletes. It’s not in my mind which University is going to come first, it’s the University that will come second that I’m worried about,” he added jocularly. He however added that what Nigeria needs today is a long-lasting co-habitation amidst diverse tribes and religions.
“I have seen Universities from the North, West, and South, I’ve seen men and women of different religious persuasions-Muslim and Christians. Everybody has come together, this is what we need in Nigeria today. We don’t care of colours, ethnicity or religion so we can use our strength, unleashed to every nation of the world”. He included that differences must be put aside for a greater country. The Speaker, who represented Unilag in sports like Table Tennis, Swimming, etc, during his days as a student, believed that new records will be set in the competition. The event ended with the NUGA torch being lit by ex-international discovered during the competition like Olumide Oyedeji, gold medalist, Chioma Ajunwa, and other top dignitaries present. The night became like the day, with the colourful lights and pieces of music from some Nigerian artists. Pheelz, a Nigerian musician was physically present while songs from Burna Boy, Lagbaja, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, and others were played as students responded accordingly with various dance steps.