Governor Nyesom Wiike National Wrestling Championship has come and gone, but Rivers people and those living in the State and its environs are still counting and recalling the benefits, most especially sportsmen and women in Nigeria.
The competition was hosted at the Alfred Diete-Spiff Sports complex, Moscow Road, Port Harcourt. It commenced on the 23rd November through 30th, but had the closing ceremony on the 1st of December.
Apart from hosting the National Wrestling Championship, the Rivers State Government led by Chief Nyesom Wike is also ready to host the forthcoming African Wrestling Championship billed to hold in February next year.
In a bid to promote other sports and national unity, Governor Nyesom Wike at the closing ceremony granted the request of the President of the National Wrestling Federation (NWF), Daniel Igali to make the “Governor Wike Wrestling Championship” an annual event.
The governor who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Kenneth Kobani, said the aim of the Championship is to exhibit the peaceful and secure nature of Rivers State against the negative speculations of some persons.
The Wike Wrestling /Championship was attended by 25 States and 12 wrestling clubs in the country that saw Bayelsa State emerging the overall winners of the event.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Minister of Sports and Youth Development , Solomon Dalung called on other state governors to emulate Wike’s style of sports development, saying that sports is one thing that brings unity and friendliness.
“Many people do not know that sports create wealth, boost economy of a country and increase integration. You are aware that sports do not have any language. Sports do not belong to either APC or PDP, what sports bring is peace and unity”, Dalung said.
The minister equally advised Nigerians to stop negative narratives against the country, adding that they should change their attitude to become good people.
He used the forum to appeal to Governor Wike to forgive all those that have wronged him one way or the other, saying that great leaders forgive.
According to him, this is the first time a West African country will host African Wrestling Championship, adding that Wike has invested in peace and security.
“For Governor Wike to host the National Wrestling Championship here in Rivers State, he has invested in peace and security,” he said.
The minister further commended the governor for providing infrastruc-tural facilities that met world class standard.
“I really appreciate and commend Governor Nyesom Wike for developing sports and making Nigeria proud. Honestly, the facilities I saw for this championship met international standard”, he stated.
Rivers State Commissioner for Sports, Hon. Boma Iyaye agreed with the Minister of Sports that sports is one of the unifying factors that promote global peace and co-existence.
According to him, Governor Nyesom Wike’s national championship was the biggest championship ever hosted by any state and the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF).
“I want to say that this Championship was beamed live on social media and has over 10million viewers worldwide,” Iyaye said.
President of Nigeria Wrestling Federation, Daniel Igali, while speaking with sports journalists shortly after the event commended the governor for accepting to host the two wrestling Championships, not minding the present economic situation in the country.
He explained that the state would benefit in various ways during and after the tournaments, because the facilities would be for training of athletes in the state, apart from increasing revenue drive and boosting tourism potentials for the state.
World number two wrestler in women category and gold medalist in Wike’s wrestling tournament, Odunayo Adekuoroye said the facilities she saw were second to none in Africa.
Adekuoroye, who is also the sports woman in Nigeria, commended Governor Wike for his interest to develop sports in the country, most importantly in the area of wrestling.
“I think this is the first time I have seen world class facilities being used for national wrestling competition in Nigeria, honestly, the facilities are wonderful”, she said.
Another gold medalist, Blessing Ogebuchi, a member of Nigerian Army equally lauded the governor for providing a conducive atmosphere for athletes to compete.
According to her, Wike is an exceptional governor because he has bias for sports development.
“No doubt, I have not seen any governor in the country that has the passion to develop other sports apart from football as Wike. I am practically excited about the facilities I saw, besides, the atmosphere is very conducive”, Ogebuchi said.
Veteran sportsman, Solomon Odikibo said the wrestling championship actually reduced the high rate of youth restiveness in the state within the period, because the attention of many youths was diverted to the tournament.
Odikibo, who was a silver medalist in1992 Police Games, further said that the competition gave hope to coaches and athletes of other sports.
“It has been long Rivers State experienced such national tournament apart from football. If the governor continues like this, the state will always perform creditably in sports meets. Frankly speaking, other sports are dying. That is why many people are happy about this wrestling championship”, Odikibo said.
Mrs Mary Okonkwo, a petty trader in the state, thanked the governor, saying that the hosting of the wrestling tournament increased her profit, because she had quick turnover.
“I wish the governor can attract more competitions to the state, so that I can make more profit from my small business”, Mrs Okonkwo said.
By: Tonye Orabere.