The Vice-Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Prof. Bamitale Omole, spoke with Sodiq Oyeleke, on the readiness of the university to host the games
How prepared is OAU to successfully host the NUGA Games?
We will be hosting the 24th edition of the Games after we successfully bid and won the rights in 2010 and ever since, we have been making preparations. Let me say categorically that there is no university that has prepared as we did in the history of NUGA. There is no crisis in OAU and our students know that this is the time for us to work together with team spirit to ensure that OAU retains its place of pride in Nigeria and Africa.
We are very prepared. We have in place an eight-lane track that is certified internationally; our swimming pool is set – only Cross River State has such in the whole of Nigeria. We also have hockey and two cricket fields, handball, four badminton courts and basketball courts among others are fully set. Apart from the modern facilities, for the first time in the history of NUGA, there is an all purpose centre for the sports activities to take place. We also have two football fields and three tennis courts. Our athletes, management and academic members are ready to see the major event happening in OAU and at the end I can assure you that we will be adjudged the best ever since the history of NUGA.
What measures have been put in place to ensure the security of participating students?
It goes without saying that when you have a big fiesta, the issue of security comes in. For a place where we are expecting about 7000 students/athletes excluding the officials and the community, you will realise that there is a major need to provide security. We have a security committee in place. The committee involves the Nigeria Police Force, Federal Road Safety Corps, Civil Defence, State Security Services and Man O’ War among others to ensure security of lives and properties.
We know that security is unto God but we have also acquired modern security gadgets that will make sneaking in of arm very difficult and impossible. We take security seriously because in a situation like this, miscreants and criminally minded people may want to penetrate but we are prepared for them.
What do you think will make this edition different from others?
There all a lot of things that will make the game distinct from other editions. First, everyone knows that OAU is unique and our standard is high. We are different and that is why all the sports starting from sports track and field events, badminton, basketball, volleyball and all other events are all taking place on our ground. All other previous universities that have hosted NUGA had their venues scattered but ours will take place in the same OAU grounds. We have about 15 events and about 60 universities have registered with us; they will all be accommodated in our premises. Our target is to ensure that others visiting athletes are overwhelmed by OAU students prowess and agility. We have not only prepared our facilities, we are prepared to get all the gold medals. We have given them target to meet and there is a prize for every student that wins a medal.
How do you intend to maintain the facilities after NUGA?
We have learnt our lessons and that is why people who come around commend us on how we have maintained our structures. We have seen ahead and we will keep our facilities well maintained. For instance, the swimming pool, three of our staff are going out to Sweden to be trained, so that after the NUGA we can continue the maintenance. It is part of our agreement with the company.
However, more importantly is the sustainability. We plan to get government and other institutions to come and rent the facilities. This will boost our economy and help to boost our internally generated revenue.
What is the impact of NUGA on students and universities?
NUGA is not only a sporting event but a major way of revamping, rehabilitating and again developing universities infrastructure. NUGA come and go in universities but facilities remain. We believe that NUGA will be an emporium of sporting activities in Nigeria after this 24th edition. It will help our students to develop and will give new respect to sport in Nigeria. We plan to use this NUGA to be a renewal of sporting activities in the country.