DAY ILORIN STOOD STILL FOR EJIDIKE
Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State, literally stood still last Sunday as sports lovers from far and wide converged in the heart of the State of Harmony to celebrate Chief Donatus Agu Ejidike on the occasion of his official unveiling as the Pillar of Sports in Kwara State by the state's chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN).
The event attracted the cream de la cream in the society with a massive presence of the Kwara State government. Prominent among the special dignitaries in attendance were the Executive Governor, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, ably represented by the Hon. Commissioner of Sports and Youth Development, Dr Abubakar Kannike, the Hon. Speaker of Kwara State House of Assembly, the commissioner of Information and a representative of the Emir of Ilorin.
More than one hour before the commencement of the event, the Banquet Hall of the luxurious Kwara Hotels, was already filled to capacity with a large number of the invited guests left outside the hotel premises.
Chairman of the occasion and former board member of the Nigeria Football Association, Dr Ayo Bello, extolled the virtues of Chief Ejidike, who he described as a humble man with a kind heart, whose philanthropy is legendary. He applauded the Kwara SWAN for the choice of Chief Ejidike as the Pillar of Sports in the state.
'I have followed Chief Donatus Ejidike's contribution to the development of sports in Kwara State for a long time. What interests me most about him is his humility and kind heart. I wish to commend the Kwara State SWAN for the choice of Chief Ejidike as the Pillar of Sports in Kwara State. It is an honour well deserved,' the former Kwara United FC boss remarked.
Dr Bello, however, likened Chief Ejidike to a tree with ripped fruits and advised the Pillar of Sports to expect stones to be thrown at him from those who are out to pluck ripped fruits from the tree.
'It is only a tree bearing ripped fruits that people throw sticks at to pluck the fruit. My advice to Chief Ejidike is that he should see himself as a tree with ripped fruits. So, he should expect sticks to be thrown at him. But my prayer is that the God Almighty will protect him,' Bello added.
Others spoke in glowing terms about the new Kwara Pillar of Sports with the Hon. Commissioner for Sports, Dr Kannike, who represented Governor Saraki, at the occasion, formally announcing that Chief Ejidike would lead the Kwara State contingent to the 17th edition of the National Sports Festival slated for Port Harcourt in Rivers State in November, tasking him to ensure that the state records a successful outing at the games.
In his response, Chief Ejidike expressed gratitude to Kwara State Chapter of SWAN and the guests at the event for the honour done him, but appealed to all for support, stressing that the responsibility of developing sports in the state should not be left to the Pillar of Sports alone.
'I wish to express my profound gratitude to Kwara SWAN for choosing me as the Pillar of Sports in Kwara State. Although I've been contributing my little quota to the development of sports in the state, I never knew it could attract such a big recognition one day. I, however, wish to appeal to everybody here present to support the 'Pillar' so that it can stand firm, otherwise, it may collapse,' he pleaded.
Guests were treated to a lavish reception later in the evening at another luxurious hotel in the city of Ilorin, where hundreds of thousands of friends and well-wishers were already seated while the unveiling ceremony was still going on at the Kwara Hotels.
Cultural troupes from Kwara State and Chief Ejidike's native hometown, Nnewi in Anambra State entertained guests with cultural display.
Before the investiture, there was a thanksgiving service at the church in the morning, while a novelty match was played in the afternoon in honour of the Pillar of Sports.