Posted by News Express | 5 May 2013 | 4,367 times
Next time Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, South-South Nigeria, tells you he would do something, please don’t doubt him, no matter how difficult the task might appear to be.
When the famous labour leader-turned politician registered to participate in the first ever road race in Nigeria certified by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), some of his fellow state governors made fun of him. Oshiomhole, however, vowed to complete the race and commenced intense reparations for it.
When the big day finally came yesterday for the maiden at Okpekpe International Road Race, Oshiomhole showed up at the main category featuring top athletes from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Nigeria. All entreaties by race officials and concerned friends for him to go for the VIP race which covered only 2.5 metres fell on def ears.
In the end, the 61 years governor stunned all by completing the 10,000 metres race in a time of 59 minutes, 3 seconds to finish 131st.
The race which Oshiomhole hopes would bring development to Okpekpe community, Edo State, attracted about 700 participants, including Sports Minister Bolaji Abdullahi, other government officials and Nollywood stars.
Expectedly, the East Africans dominated the race which covered hills and sandy paths. Moses Masai of Kenya came first with a time of 29 minutes, 39 seconds; Timothy Troitich of Uganda second with a time of 29 minutes 44 seconds and Yusuf Bitwott third with a time of 29 minutes, 50 seconds.
Speaking after the race, Governor Oshiomhole said: “I think I speak the mind of the community and the good people of Edo State to say thank you when you say that this event will be repeated every year. We in Edo State will make sure we include it in our national calendar of events,” he disclosed.
“I think it is reassuring to bring Africans together and I am sure this countries will be going back to tell their people that rural people are connected and even Ministers feel at home in a typical rural Nigeria. That we have road networks that connect the cities to the villages. Nigeria is not about those things that people report about.
“The country is working, development is going on, the rural people are being touched, rural economy is being affected positively and Nigeria is on the move.”
Also speaking, Sports Minister Abdullahi thanked the Edo State Government for the commitment and vision for “the sincere energy and commitment which you have demonstrated and also for the vision” of the race.
“We will continue to cherish the connection you have brought between rural development and sports and that falls squarely within our mission for mass participation in sports. I will continue to argue that it is not all the time that the purpose of sports is for medals or for podium success or global excellence,” the minister said.
He noted that “the purpose of sports is for mass participation and for unity,” adding: “Today this event is uniting us because it has brought everybody here to have a pleasant Saturday in Okpekpe. I must also say that the people of Okpekpe will continue to be grateful for this event. Without this event someone like me will probably not visit Okpekpe, if ever I will visit it will probably not be today.”
The Minister promised to discuss with the organisers, the President of Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), with a view to making the race an annual event.
•Photo courtesy 247Ureports.com shows Governor Oshiomhole (right) and Sports Minister Abdullahi (second left) during the race.
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