AFRICAN PARA GAMES: Nigeria’s First Lady Becomes Grand Patron Of African Paralympic; Assures To Prioritize Para-Sports In Africa
The African Para Games and Para Sports in Africa received a boost when the African Paralympic Committee President paid a courtesy visit to the First Lady of Africa’s most populous Nation Nigeria, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, their Grand Patron.
The First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, has made outstanding contributions to sports development in the nation, according to the Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh, at a brief ceremony held in the Conference Room of the Office of the First Lady.
According to him, the First Lady has demonstrated an incredible dedication to the cause of youth and women, not to mention men.
As the Grand Patron of the African Para Games and Para Sports in Africa, Senator Enoh expect 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.
PRESIDENT SAMSON DEEN’S SPEECH:
Your Excellency, 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.
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 are responsible for developing and promoting para-sports in their respective countries and representing their countries in the IPC and the Paralympic programme / Games.
Your Excellency, in the 36 years of existence of our 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 I am proud to be the third leader of our organization, elected two years ago, 2021 in Morocco. 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.
This notwithstanding, 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:
• 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.
Your Excellency, 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.
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.
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 Excellency, 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.
On this note, Your Excellency, I seek your indulgence to confer on you the Grand Patron of the African Paralympic Committee.
With your support, Your Excellency, Para Sports will inspire a better Africa.
Senator Oluremi Tinubu, First Lady Of The Federal Republic of Nigeria Acceptance Speech:
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.