Athletics

Nigeria’s First Lady becomes grand patron of African paralympic

Nigeria's First Lady becomes grand patron of African paralympic

The first lady of Nigeria, Senator Oluremi Tinubu has been made the grand patron of the African Para Games and para sports.

This so when the President of the African Paralympic Committee paid a courtesy visit to the first lady at the Statehouse in Abuja.

Speaking at a brief ceremony held at the conference room of the office of the First Lady, the Minister of Sports and Development in Nigeria, Senator John Owan Enoh said the first lady has made outstanding contributions to sports development in the nation, stressing that she has demonstrated an incredible dedication to the cause of youth and women, not to mention men.

And as the Grand Patron of the African Para Games and Para Sports in Africa, Senator Enoh said he is expecting the First Lady to revitalize the industry with her charisma.

Before her decoration, Samson Deen, the President of the African Paralympic Committee, introduced the first lady to a brief history of para-sports in the region and indicated the processes that made the First Lady the right choice for the office as Grand Patron.

He said that, “some 36 years ago, precisely in 1987 in Algeria, a Regional Organization first formed the African Sports Confederation of the Disabilities (ASCOD) and later, in 2001, renamed the African Paralympic Committee.

Mr Deen indicated that the AfPC is responsible for sports for persons with disabilities/para sports in Africa, the governing body of the Paralympic Movement in Africa with 48 full members. These members, he said, are responsible for developing and promoting para-sports in their respective countries and representing their countries in the IPC and the Paralympic programme and Games.

He explained that in the 36 years of existence of the organization, three individuals have led the AfPC at different periods: Dr Nabil Salem of Egypt from 1987 to 2010, Leonel da Rocha Pinto of Angola between 2010 and 2021, and himself as the third leader after his election two years ago in Morocco.

He added that, “we have made some significant gains since 1987. Africa’s presence in the Paralympic Games has increased, with Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa, Egypt, Tunisia etc, represented on the medal table at the summit.

Mr Deen appealed that the sports and its athletes continue to need more attention on the continent of Africa in finance, equipment, facilities, coaching, classification, and participation at all levels, among other issues.

“In Africa, it is believed that between 10% and 20% of the 1.4 billion population in Africa are physically challenged, with many societal challenges, including unfair social and economic conditions such as: stigmatization, discrimination, poverty, exclusion from education, business, employment, inequality in the healthcare system, and inaccessible and unaffordable transportation and housing, among others.

“Your Excellency, sports is a potent tool and arguably the only source of hope and driver for inclusion. To change people’s perception of them because of its Global popularity positions, its ability to cross language, culture and economic barriers, hope for many affected by violence, wars and disasters, as well as provides opportunities for national pride and a forum for peaceful competition”, he continued.

He stated that with much commitment, dedication and great efforts, on the 3rd of September 2023, in Accra, Ghana, the African Para Games was commissioned with 18 African countries present, including Nigeria, featuring three sporting disciplines, notably Amputee Football, Wheelchair Basketball, and Wheelchair Tennis.

Mr Deen said significantly, the African Para Games is aimed at providing the athletes and officials with the opportunity to experience a multi-para sporting event on the African continent, which their “abled” counterparts have enjoined since 1965 through the All African Games; enhance the promotion of para-sports on the continent as well as showcase the abilities of the athletes, create further awareness for the sports, the athletes and the Regional Organization.

He continued that, “your Excellency, at long last, the African Para Games has been established, and Africa now has to leverage; however, we need a strong personality, role model and patron to interface between our organization and governments across Africa and the global business industries.

“Your Excellency, our mission here today is simple; thus, we request you to be the Grand Patron of our organization and its product, the African Para Games and Para Sports in Africa, as the Grand Patron, to use your platform to bring together all your colleagues, First Ladies in Africa to serve as Patrons for Para Sports in their respective countries.

” This request/appointment is informed by your experience in governance, immense contributions, involvement and advocacy for the vulnerable in society in social, humanitarian and economic support. Your dedication to youth development, girl-child education, women empowerment, inspiring young persons to excellence, and Endowment fund for universities are remarkable and unparalleled. Your unique positions as Senator and First Lady of the most populous nation are strategic to influence and network with other First Ladies in Africa and the World to support this cause.”

Samson Deen ended by conferring the position as the grand patron of African Paralympic Committee on Senator Oluremi Tinubu.

In response, Senator Oluremi Tinubu stated that the African Para Games and Para Sports represent the inclusive spirit and acknowledged that sports, in all their forms, have the unique power to promote harmony and understanding among people from different backgrounds.

“We are reminded of the fantastic ability of sports to inspire, bring people together, and change lives by the presence of these committed officials today. African Para Games and Para Sports have played a pivotal role in giving athletes with disabilities a stage to exhibit their remarkable abilities, tenacity, and grit.

“I think it is our collective duty to make sure that every person, no matter how gifted, has the chance to shine and be acknowledged for their qualities and accomplishments. In my modest capacity as Grand Patron, I will assist these committed people and groups associated with the African Para Games and Para Sports in advancing their goals in the World,” she declared.

The First Lady thanked the President of the African Paralympic Committee for his unique vision to identify the first ladies’ office in Africa to lead the promotion and development of Para Sports and the African Para Games in the member nations.

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