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HSD Foundation Honours Bayelsan Living Legends Of Wrestling

By Michael Egiethua

Presents Trophies and Introduces Icons of Ijaw Wrestling and Awards

…Minister of Sports, King Diete-Spiff, Obinna Ogba, others Urge Nigerians to Emulate Dickson

The Henry Seriake Dickson Foundation has presented Trophies and introduced Icons of Ijaw Wrestling and awards at a ceremony Hosted by the foundation in Abuja on Tuesday 16th of December, 2021.

The event attended by the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, Senator Obinna Ogba, Chairman Senate Committee, Youths and Sports, Senator Moses Cleopas, representing Bayelsa West Senatorial District, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, Amanyanabo of Twon-Brass, the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Sports, Mr. Igali who was represented by the Vice President of the Nigerian Wrestling Federation, Mr. Christopher Amkpila, saw the recognition and cash gift of two million Naira (N2, 000, 000) and Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500, 000) presented to Blessing Oborodudu for wining a Silver Medal in Wrestling, which turned out to be Nigeria’s only medal at the Tokyo Olympics and her coach, Victor Kodei respectively.

In his welcome address, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson said that the Nanaye Dickson Traditional Wrestling Tournament aims to engage Bayelsan youths, to promote grassroots Ijaw Traditional Wrestling and culture as well as to serve as a talent hunt avenue for the youths of Bayelsa.

He said the event was to honour Bayelsa State Wrestlers because, Bayelsa  has remained the capital of wresting in the entire Nigeria and the whole of Africa. He reiterated that Bayelsa State has the highest concentration of wrestling champions in the State, more than any other state or country in Africa.

Senator Dickson said  Bayelsa State has, even in one local govenment area alone, up to three to four Wrestling champions. He said Bayelsa is the undisputed headquarters of wrestling in Nigeria and Africa. He noted that right here at the event, there were several of such champions and international medalists.

Dickson explained that the Henry Seriake Foundation, which unveiled the Nanaye Dickson Wrestling Tournament, is also the sponsors of the ongoing community-based grassroots football competition, the Ofurumapepe Cup, which involves 100 teams and 1000 young boys.

Speaking at the event as the Special Guest of Honour, Mr. Sunday Dare, Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development thanked the Chief Host, Former Governor of Bayelsa State and serving senator of the 9th Senate, His Excellency, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson whom he described as a Comrade from the past but that not many people knew much about his days as an activist as a former NADECO member, INC member, etc., former Action Congress candidate in Bayelsa Governorship election as way back as 1999, a confidant of Pa Bisi Akande, a friend and brother, now a Distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He appreciated the support of Mrs. Rachel Seriake Dickson for her husband’s sustained investmentin sports and philanthropy.

The Minister said he will single out Distinguished Senator Seriake Dickson not just because he has put together the Nanaye Dickson Wrestling Tournament but because of his love for sports development and not just for Wrestling. He said there was a preponderance of evidence that supports the fact that Dickson is a lover and promoter of sports and that beyond that, he was also a lover of our Youths and their development.

The Minister said it was no wonder that, at the twilight of the Dickson Administration, in his eight years tenure as Governor of Bayelsa State, he was one of the last callers at the Government House in Yenagoa and he was opportuned to accompany, then Governor Dickson, to the commissioning of the Samson Siasia Stadium Complex and also to watch a football match. The minister also recalled with nostalgia, how he and Seriake Dickson got on the Tartan Tracks to compete with 5 times Olympian, Mary Onyali and that the result of the race is now history.

Mr. Dare said in one single breathe, you see a governor in love with sports development, in terms of facilities, in terms of grassroots sports development, football, Track & Field and Wrestling. He said today was truly a validation of Senator Dickson’s interest, investment and support for sports development. He said obviously, Wrestling stands out for Dickson. He recalled that before Nigeria left for the Tokyo Olympics, the last visit he made to any training camp was again, in Yenagoa. He visited the Wrestling Camp where he met all Nigerian Wrestlers including Blessing Oborodudu and that he watched all their wrestling bouts and he challenged them that Wrestling must give Nigeria one or two medals which they promised to do.

He said watching Oborodudu at the Ringside of the Wrestling matches at the Tokyo Olympic Games, he saw the fire come out strong as she rose up to the occasion and won a Silver Medal for Nigeria. He said what many people did not know was that she was nursing a very terrible knee injury which was properly managed and that were it not for the knee injury, she would have gotten the Wrestling Gold Medal.

The Minister noted that Blessing Oborodudu has nevertheless written he name in Gold, being the first woman in Africa to win an Olympic Silver Medal in Women’s Wrestling, the first African woman to get to that level. He said she was indeed a Living Legend.

He said he learnt she has rescinded her decision to quit Wrestling and assured her that the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development was committed to fixing her Knee. He asked her to show up and let the Ministry know her Doctors to enable it fix her knee so she can go back and serve as a mentor to the younger ones and also to compete for Nigeria as Nigeria prepares for the Commonwealth Games.

The minister noted that the future of sports development lies in seeing sports as a business and that it has two legs which are, the government and the private sector.

The Minister thanked Senator Dickson for the recognition that he was giving today to these legends and Icons, both dead and alive.

Subsequently, Mr. Sunday Dare said the Federal Government will take a cue from this event to reach out to as many as possible of Nigeria’s sporting legends and not to wait until they are no longer with us before we recognize them. He said the FG will recognize and honour them when they are still alive. He said the Dickson Wrestling Classics has been adopted by the Federal Government as the National Wrestling Classics.

He therefore, charged Blessing Oborodudu’s coach, Mr. Victor Kodei that his job with her was not over yet and that he hoped before the next Olympic games, he should be able to give Nigeria more Blessing Oburodudus.

In his remarks, King Alfred Diete-Spiff said sports is one of those things that keeps your mind fit and healthy and as the saying goes, “a healthy mind is a healthy body”. He aged people like him, who participated in sports are better able to manage their bodies at old age. He said for the younger ones who are already into sports, they should keep it up and for the older ones who are not yet in sports, they should consider playing golf or hockey.

King Alfred Diete-Spiff congratulated Sen. Seriake Dickson for the Nanaye Dickson Wrestling Initiative and award to Ijaw Living Legends and Icons of Wrestling. He said wrestling was the joy of the Ijaw man. In his words, the Ijaw man “has a large advantage and there was no reason why he should not capitalize on it, invest in it and make sure they keep their leading profile. He said it takes hard work to be a champion and harder work to remain a champion. He said to the winners who have shown great potentialities, they should try and pick up the grassroots development program and groom the younger ones who will take over from them. He assured the gathering that Brass Local Government is also grooming its young talents in swimming and even boxing and he hopes that before long they will also join Cycling.

He thanked the Minister for mentioning his enquiries about Fencing, noting that, this is one area to get the low hanging fruits of Gold Medals at the Olympics and a place to channel the energies of our youths. He noted that Nigeria has a lot of young, smart, brilliant men and women who accept challenges and that once they are challenged, they try to excel.

Concluding, King Alfred Diete-Spiff congratulated Senator Dickson for his creativity and dedication in sports development.

Speaking, the Chairman of the occasion and Chairman, Senate Committee on Youths and Sports Developement, Senator Obinna Ogba said he is one man who does not agree with most of the appointments of President Mohammadu Buhari. However, he said the appointment of Mr. Sunday Dare as the Minister of Youths and Sports Development was an exception. He said Dare’s Appointment is one of the best appointments made so far by President Buhari. Senator Ogba said as Senate Sports Committee for two tenures, he knew what he was talking about.

Senator Ogba said he was not surprised that Senator Dickson, the former Governor of Bayelsa State is doing this after leaving office as it translates to the fact that, what he is doing is in-born and imbued in him. He noted that many will do this as a seating governor but the moment they leave the office, they will leave the whole thing. He said Dickson’s case shows that once a sportsman, always a sportsman.

He said sports is one thing that when you invest in it, you are investing in yourself and in the Nigerian youths. He said if you want to be popular as a politician, you have to invest in sports and that it was no wonder that Senator Dickson is very popular. He pledged to continue to support Senator Dickson in his sports development efforts in his own little ways.

He said just as Senator Dickson supported his Bill, which was just passed by the Senate, proposing to get a University of Sports in Nigeria, the first in Africa, he will continue to support Dickson and the development of sports in Bayelsa State. He said, when you have a University of Sports, you will find out that there will be no dropouts again in the country because God has impacted on everybody, one sporting activity or the other.

He said he will continue to support the Sports Minister, Mr. Sunday Dare for what he was doing because he is doing very well. He noted that our National Stadium in Abuja today is having a very good look courtesy of the Minister. Also, he noted that the National Stadium in Lagos which was abandoned for many years, over 20 years, has work ongoing there at this present time.

Senator Obinna Ogba assured Senator Dickson that any money invested in sports is not wasted. He said Nigerian youths will always remember him for investing in them and he used the opportunity to also call on corporate bodies and individuals to emulate Sen. Dickson in what he was doing today.
Concluding, Senator Obinna Ogba said there were so many Nigerians who had so much to give to Nigerian Youths but did not know how to go about it, he called on them to consult with the former governor of Bayelsa State to show them how.

Senator Obinna Ogba was thereafter presented with a Distinguished Service Award by the Chief Host and founder of the Nanaye Dickson Wrestling Tournament, Senator Dickson, on behalf of his family and the Henry Seriake Dickson Foundation. He was assisted by the other dignitaries present.

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