Our Doors are Wide Open to the World

Source: Gov. Willie Obiano
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An Address Presented by the Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Chief Sir Willie Obiano During the Opening Ceremony of the 12th Biennial Nigerian Police Games holding in Anambra State on February 29, 2020.

On behalf of the people and government of Anambra State, I welcome you all to Awka; the only smith city in Nigeria. With wide open arms, we welcome you to the birthplace of Ndigbo, the home of West Africa’s earliest civilization and the home state of Innoson; West Africa’s first indigenous auto manufacturing company. We also welcome you to the home state of Nigeria’s first President, Rt Hon Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and of course, Nigeria’s safest state (through the mercy of God and the Nigerian Police and other security agencies). I think the Nigerian Police deserves our applause here. Indeed, I am proud to say that when the story of the New Anambra State is finally told, the Nigerian Police and other security agencies will occupy an enviable place as incredible partners!

Anyi na asi unu nno nu-o!
Ladies and gentlemen, this gathering is historic. This is the first major national sports festival that will take place here since the creation of Anambra State. This is also the first time that the Nigerian Police Games is taking place in South East Nigeria. Viewed from these two perspectives, it is clear that what we have gathered here to do today bears a huge weight of history. So, we must thank the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu and his team for finding Anambra State worthy of hosting these games.

Throughout history, sports has played a major role in closing the gaps between people and strengthening the ties that bind us together as one. That is why the great Madiba, Nelson Mandela once observed that “Sports has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sports can create hope where there was only despair.”

Indeed, as a nation, our collective experience shows that nothing brings Nigeria’s rich diversity into one camp like sports. Nothing gives Nigerians from different ethnicities a greater sense of unity than watching the Super Eagles win a trophy. At such times, our differences disappear. At such times, we are our brother’s keeper. That is the unifying power of sports!

Anambra State has always contributed unforgettable talents to Nigerian sports. The first black African to win a gold medal at an international sports event, Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna was from Anambra State. He won gold at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954.

In much the same way, legends like Mary Onyeali-Omagbemi and Emmanuel Okala who are here with us (can they stand up for recognition please), Innocent Egbunike, Francis Obiora Obikwelu, Michael Okpara (Power Mike), Ben Lion heart Okoye, Sylvanus Okpala, John Mikel Obi and Obinna Nsofor among many others, are all from Anambra State. Indeed, our beloved state has a great track record in sporting excellence that is rare to find. It is therefore clear that the choice of Anambra State as host of the 12th edition of the Nigerian Police Games is a great one.

Not only is Anambra famous for producing men and women who have shown remarkable talent in sports and other fields of human endeavour, Anambra is also well-known for its hospitality. Our people are rated to be very friendly and welcoming to strangers. It is embedded in our worldview of “Egbe belu, ugo belu,” which declares “let the kite perch and let the eagle perch too…”

It is important to recall that the first edition of Onitsha City Marathon took place last year in the great city on the Niger. The Marathon attracted athletes from different parts of Africa and was eventually won by a Kenyan. It is a large statement on the growing degree of freedom we enjoy in Anambra State that an international event of such magnitude took place successfully in Onitsha without a single incident. I am optimistic that by the Grace of God, these games will also hold successfully without a single unpleasant incident.

Ladies and gentlemen, in accepting to host this event, our expectations are considerably high. First, we are sending a loud signal to the world. We are saying to everyone “we have done our homework well. We have put our acts together. Come and become a part of our emerging success story.” On the other hand, we are also looking forward to the economic impact that these games will have on businesses in our dear state. I was reliably informed that over 8000 police men and women are in our dear state for the duration of the games. These people will need goods and services from our small businesses. They will spend money on those goods and services. The economic impact of these games will be felt on different levels of the private sector. In clear terms, hosting these games is expected to bring over N1.5bn into our domestic economy. This is the expected value of goods and services that will exchange hands between Anambra businesses and the large number of sports men and women, important dignitaries, sports writers and analysts, tourists and fans that will visit us during this period.

Again, sports will never be the same in Anambra State after the games. All the first class facilities that we have put in place for these games have become a part of our growing critical infrastructure. Our young men and women shall have the rare opportunity of honing their sporting skills with standard facilities across Anambra State. Considering the importance of quality facilities to the nurturing of sporting talents, I have no doubt that the facilities have become a part of our larger legacy in sports development in Anambra State.

And finally, it is my fervent hope that hosting these games will further enhance the great partnership that Anambra State enjoys with the Nigerian Police. It is a partnership against crime; a partnership for a safer society. Indeed, I am proud to say that under my watch, Anambra State has become a case study for excellent partnership between the police and the state. This partnership has shown the endless benefits of building a functional relationship with the police in the larger interest of the society. It is a partnership to which my administration is totally committed.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is on this note that I welcome you once again to Anambra State. I implore you to enjoy our famous hospitality, our gregarious spirit and our wide open arms to our guests no matter where they come from.

God bless Anambra State
God bless Nigeria
Willie Obiano