The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has redeemed the pledge of a three-bedroom flat in Lagos by the Lagos State Government to Chioma Ajunwa-Oparah, the first African woman to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games field event, Twenty-five years after, the pledge was made to her.
The Governor, on Thursday, presented keys to a three-bedroom apartment in Babatunde Raji Fashola Housing Estate in Iponri to the Olympic medalist, who is now an Assistant Commissioner of Police in Lagos Police Command.
The presentation was made by the Governor at a reception held to honour Lagos State’s athletes who participated in the recently concluded
Chioma Ajunwa-Oparah, was a long jump athlete, she won a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
The Governor said: “When Dr. Chioma Ajunwa-Oparah represented the country in the 1996 Olympic Games, some promises were made and very typical of us as a people, we forget. I have met and kept the promises of my predecessors in ensuring that our athletes get what they deserve. The promise of a befitting shelter to Chioma Ajunwa-Oparah could have been delayed for 25 years, but today she will be a proud owner of a three-bedroom apartment in the famous Babatunde Raji Fashola Estate in Iponri.
“She has remained a good reference point for sport, journalism and everything that relates to sport in our country. She is a true demonstration of can-do spirit, which reflects her decision to serve the country as a Police officer after attaining a coveted position on an international sporting platform. We will continue to use her as a testimony to give women strong voice and good representation in our sport organizations. We have made it compulsory to reserve 30 percent of positions to our women in Boards of Sport Organizations in Lagos.”
Responding to the kind gesture from the Governor, Ajunwa-Opara described the gesture as a “motivation” to fulfil her dream of raising a new generation of athletes, saying the Governor’s action had further reinforced her belief in the country and spurs her on to do more.
The Governor said the amended Sport Commission Law, which he signed same day of the awards, would bring a new beginning for sports in Lagos as the new law will to promote sporting activities in the grassroots.
He also told the audience that he had given an approval for the upgrade of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere to make it a standardized sport centre, in addition to commencing the concurrent construction of eight new mini-stadia across the State.
He said: “We have just signed an amendment on Sport Commission Bill into Law after the House of Assembly adjusted the law for us. With the new law, we will have more robust grassroots sport competitions and it will take sport to a granular level where we will have a lot more participation and infrastructure development at the grassroots level.
“Our youths have brighter days ahead and I enjoin them not to give up on their skills. There is a reward for hard work, but sometimes the reward may be delayed. You should not be discouraged because people are watching. At the right time, God will come through for you.”
The Governor at the event, presented cheques to the medal winners at the recently concluded National Sports Festival in Edo State.
Some of the athletes that got rewarded made it to the team that will represent Nigeria in the about to begin Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan.
He rwarded them with N146 million. With cheques ranging from N300,000 to N5 million to winners of medals in the contest.
Someone like Lagos team captain, Ahmed Koleosho, a para table tennis player and received a cheque of N2.5 million. He will also be part of the Team Nigeria at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Lagos State won 125 medals, including 32 gold and 27 silver medals at the festival.