ALL the cops are here! Saturday through first weekend of March, Anambra State will be agog with all sorts of competitive sports, sports stars, legends of the industry, super cops, guests and the most physically fit of police men and women.
The cops will be here for the 12th biennial edition of Nigeria Police Games (NPG) which kicks off in Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka, and holds at various locations across the state with a promise to make it the best package of the games since its inception. Them e of this year’s event is ‘Promoting Community Safety through Sports.’
Anambra, being the first state of the South East zone to host the NPG aspires to offer the best hospitality, spectacle, ambience and sports challenge in the history of the games. The state also guns to have her name etched in history for being the place where the country would discover a new crop of athletes and competitors for her national and international sports meets in the new decade.
But most importantly, the state sees the games as another platform of showcasing her strong reputation for internal security whilst the cops would, obviously want to be in Anambra for the meeting to express its very healthy relationship with Ndi Anambra.
Over time, especially, since the inception of the Gov. Willie M. Obiano administration in March 17, 2014, Anambra State has openly supported and identified with security agencies while establishing her keenness for the success of such agencies as the Police in their duties of ensuring law and order and protecting the citizenry.
Writing in his article, ‘The 12th Police Games in Anambra State’, Anambra State’s Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C.Don Adinuba establishes the essence of the state playing host to the games.
“Why are the police holding the 12th biennial games in Anambra State?” he retorted, and followed with what could be the views of those who needed to be furnished with relevant information.
Such blokes would erroneously say: “After all, the state is reputed for excellence in fields like education, agriculture, manufacturing, technology, security and entrepreneurship but not sports.”
Forgetting, as Adinuba observes, that “some of the best sportsmen and women ever from Nigeria are Anambra indigenes. Take Mary Onyali, an Olympic medalist. Take Innocent Ejima Egbunike, another Olympic medalist. Or Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna, the first Nigerian to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games.
How about Emmanuel Okala, Nigeria’s greatest goalkeeper? Or Power Mike Okpala, the undefeated world heavyweight wrestling champion? Who can ever forget Ben Lionheart Okpala, the African heavyweight wrestling champion? Or Ngozika Ekwelum, the national boxing champion? No one can forget that Christ the King College, Onitsha, made history in 1977 when it became the first secondary school in Africa to win the World Secondary School Football Competition held in Ireland.”
More so, the issues around the state’s hosting of the NPG go beyond seeking to establish the state’s legacy of hospitality, pushing to discover sports legend and ensuring that people of current generation do not forget a history of great sports acts which Anambra has had from the early years of Nigeria.
In ‘The 12th Police Games in Anambra State’, Chief Adi nuba pressed the matter thusly: “even if Anambra State did not have a longstanding robust record in sports, the police authorities would have gone out of their way to make the state government a partner in the 12th Biennial Police Games by hosting the games. The reason is simple: the Nigeria Police Force cannot possibly ask for a better partner in preventing and fighting crime than the present Governor Willie Obiano administration. The police will remain grateful to Governor Obiano for many years to come.”
So the Police surely have a friend in Anambra State and the state has their buddy among the cops.
Aside relationship and hosting goals, Anambra State, by the games, is contributing her quota, remarkably in boosting the nation’s law enforcement efforts. Well before Nigeria’s independence, the staging of regular sports contest among officers and men of the Police have been a regular beat and veritable means of improving policing services while also boosting sports in Nigeria.
Hence when, in 2017, then Nigeria’s Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung said: “We (Nigeria) have always relied on the Nigerian Police to produce athletes for international competitions,” he was on point. Records show that in the 1950s and even 1960s the police was called the Pillar of Nigeria’s sports as almost all national team were made up mostly of cop sportsmen.
Additionally, police games helps the nation breed in the Police Service the philosophy of hard work and play in equal measure while also raising healthy men and women who would have wonderful and rewarding careers.
With activities such as the police sport, cops from all over the nation would have marvellous opportunities for friendship, good health, physical fitness, personal satisfaction and confidence, which, no doubt is very crucial in the very challenging and risky profession.
History establishes that the activities that culminated to what we have currently as NPG began as early as the mid-1940s. In United Kingdom, it began immediately after the First World War.
Nigeria’s story of Police Games is traced back to the recruitment of 30 able-bodied men into the Consular Guard of the colonial era. For their recruitment, they had to undergo fitness tests through such activities as running and jumping. But as the Anambra Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, Mohammed Haruna (SP), in an interview he granted Nkechi Ikenwoke of this newspaper (National Light), explained: “it was in 1946 that the actual Police sporting competition began at the Obalende Police ground in the then Lagos Colony when CP W.C. King, the Inspector-General of Police between 1942 and 1947 staged the first Police Athletics Championship.” The said contest was for police athletes from the Provinces in the regions and Lagos colony. Men’s track and field athletic events were the main objective.
The Obalende ground hosted the challenges regularly “until 1954 when the venue was moved to the Southern Police College in Ikeja. Thus, making Ikeja the meeting point for all police athletes from the West, East, North and the Mid- West regions.
“At the Provinces in the regions, inter Provincial competitions were held to produce teams that were to represent the region at the Police College in Ikeja.
“At the Southern Police College, Ikeja, the championship changed from what used to be track and field alone to a wider scope with other events like football, hockey, basketball, cross country and many more included in the programme. It was a yearly event in which trophies were donated by senior officers for the winning teams and individuals in each event.”
In 1977, the yearly competition moved out of Lagos for the first time as Kaduna hosted it. NPG eventually became a biennial event in 1986, when Bauchi hosted it. But there was a hiatus between 2002 through 2006 after Kwara and Cross River had played. In 2008, under the reign of Sir Mike Okiro as Inspector-General of Police (IGP), the games was ressurcitated with Lagos as host.
Rivers State hosted an eventful edition in 2013 during the reign of IGP M.D. Abubakar. This 2020 edition of NPG holding under the regime of a very meticulous and brilliant supper cop, IGP Mohammed Abubakar Adamu,a man who had never hidden his admiration of Anambra State, holds promises of a rich and memorable outing.
Among my expectations in the Awka meet is the healthy rivalry between the Lagos/Ogun axis (Zone 2) and Zone 6, Calabar. This is also an opportunity for the Umuahia Zone (in which Anambra Command belongs) to prove her mettle in the medals’ table after the competitions in football, track and field athletics, swimming, cycling, indoor games, shooting among others.
Given that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will begin in July and the National Sports Festival kicks off in Edo State next month, I count myself and most people living in Anambra within this period, very lucky for being around. It will be a big previledge and rare witness of history for one to behold some the Olympians and stars of the National Sports Festival, live.
Ndi Anambra are actually lucky to have this at this auspicious period. The NPG and its attendant improvement of sporting facilities across the state will, definitely improve sports here for a long time to come. Youth of the state are surely, the biggest beneficiaries here. Four centres , spread across senatorial zones in the state will hosts beats in the competition.
Even those in entertainment and the business of memontoes are in good opportunity too. Like anyone who had sovenirs or memoirs of Nigeria’s first Olympic gold medallist, ACP Chioma Ajunwa; the World heavyweight boxing star, DSP Samuel Peter (aka The Nigerian Nightmare), the late SP Sunday Badah (also an Olympic gold medallist)among others when they were NPG sportsmen can get an edge with them, those who meet the stars in town from this weekend may be happening into history.
Surely, the cops are here for good.