By Ritah Aliguma
His Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, the Governor of River State of Nigeria on Wednesday received Power of Sports Award at the ongoing 81st AIPS Congress in the Belgian capital, Brussels.
This is in recognition for his great contribution towards sports development in Nigeria.
The Governor, who is an accomplished lawyer, administrator, politician, philanthropist and a sports diehard, did not only receive the highly coveted AIPS AFRICA Power of Sports Award. He also presented a landmark paper on Peace and Progress Through Sports in The Niger Delta Region of Nigeria.
“By the time I assumed office there was disarray in sports management,” Wike narrated. “But shockingly within a short period, a lot has been achieved and hope to get to greater heights in the field of sports,” the Governor noted
Notably, The Governor has not only contributed toward sports infrastructure development but has created a salary for top athletes, the state owned football teams, former Sharks FC, Dolphins FC plus the females team Rivers Angesl FC.
He has also gone ahead to strike a deal with Real Madrid, which will see them put up an international sports academy in the River State.
The AIPS President Gianni Merlo decorated the Governor with the Power of Sport award, AIPS gifts and the history book whiles emphasizing that credit deserve to be given when it is due.
Honour for Wike is not of any surprise due to his contribution to sport and becomes the first of its kind by AIPS Africa.
The former ASJU in 1980 installed Bashorun Abiola as the First Pillar of Sports in Africa. No other personality has since been given such continental honours.
According to the president of the continental body, Mitchell Obi, the River State helmsman whose government recently sponsored the African Wrestling Championship, is being recognized for consistently raising the bar of sports matters.
“He effectively uses sports as a veritable vehicle to fast-track communal growth along the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as well as engaging a booming but restive youth populace in his state and country.
“It is indeed a badge of honour, freely and independently considered and granted and we think strongly that this would serve as an apt catalyst to His Excellency as he continuously strives to put sports on the front burner of his developmental strides,” Obi remarked.
At the global level, only four personalities have been honoured by AIPS, the last being the immediate past president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge of Belgium.
The Power Of Sports Award derives its inspiration from the great Nelson Mandela whose school of thought holds that sports has the power to change the world.