Sports Festival: How Commissioner For Sports Saved Lives Of Many Team Nasarawa Contingent
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By Eche Amos
Brave people tend to have a mix of qualities – a combination of risk-seeking, generosity, and empathy. But it’s the latter quality that sets them apart.
As the saying goes, “adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.” This even becomes truer when disaster strikes.
In times of great misfortune and even catastrophe, there are often only a few people who have the strength to go above and beyond to help others survive.
On Thursday night, 15th April, 2021, will remain a day to be remembered for long in the minds of members of Team Nasarawa who were returning from Benin City, Edo State, after the climax of the 20th National Sports Festival in that State.
One of the contingent members’ vehicles, a 56-seater luxurious bus, was attacked by heavily armed robbers at Akeleku village, shortly after Kadarko town, Makurdi-Lafia expressway.
The ugly incident that lasted for over four hours saw one of the gang members instantly shot dead by one of the escort Civil Defence personnel attached to the contingent’s bus, while another member of the robbery gang disappeared into thin air with bullet wounds.
The robbers would never let go without a fighback. They shot sporadically at the 56-seater Team Nasarawa bus, bursting the tyres and shattering the radiator, all aimed at impeding the escaping contingent’s vehicle.
Were it not for the swift reaction of the bus driver(name withheld for security reasons) who showed immense dexterity by managing to pull the shattered vehicle ahead of the unrushing daredevils to a safer location, every occupant of that vehicle would have been subjected to any of the following by the armed robbers:
1. Mass shooting
2. Raping of the women.
3. Carting away of their personal and official belongings, including cash, mobile handsets, and sporting equipment.
4. Infliction of permanent deformities, and or,
5. Kidnapping them for ransom.
But here is the bravest man among the three heroes: Hon. Othman Bala Adam, the Nasarawa State Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development.
Othman Bala Adam, a former legislator who served as Chairman, House Committee on Youth and Sports, in the 4th Nasarawa State House of Assembly, between 2011-2015, representing Keffi-East Constituency, was appointed Commissioner for the Ministry in 2020, by Governor Abdullahi Sule and assumed official duty on 1st November of same year.
Ever since his arrival at the Ministry, his leadership Midas touch has been visible to the blind, loud to the deaf and felt by the numbed.
Never had Nasarawa State excelled in sporting activities like it is being witnessed today.
Team Nasarawa had their best outing in the history of the National Sports Festival, winning five Gold, four Silver and Thirteen Bronze, making a total of twenty-two medals won at the Edo 2020 Sports Festival.
Among the 19 northern states and FCT, Abuja, that partook in the Sports Festival, Team Nasarawa came 5th best, ahead of Kaduna, Jigawa, Benue, Taraba, Kebbi, Adamawa, Yobe, Katsina, Borno, Kogi, Niger, Bauchi, Gombe, Zamfara, and Sokoto states respectively – all courtesy of the ingenuity of the Commissioner.
His kind of administrative prowess and sagacity has helped to considerably improve the welfare of staff of the Ministry and equally given them a sense of belonging, making the Ministry one of the busiest in Nasarawa State.
Never in the history of Team Nasarawa had security details been attached to its travelling sporting contingent, no matter the number.
But he, knowing that leadership goes beyond just leading people, but inputting yourself in their positions, makes him stand out.
The Commissioner insisted on the attachment of adequate security personnel to each of the four contingent’s vehicles to and from Benin City, in case of eventuality.
And like Nostradamus, and one who acts like a consummately effective intelligence security officer, the Commissioner seemed to see what might happen.
Even though requesting for security details to and from the Festival would attract more financial allowances, Othman Bala felt it was worth the sacrifice, saying, “It’s better to do the right thing and save cost and position, than to spend much trying to save life and position.”
That singular brave and proactive act of the Commissioner has gone to save hundreds of lives and properties during the attack, and without mincing words, he should be credited with the “Brave and Heroism Award” by every right-thinking member of the society.
This kind of heroism can never be forgotten in a long time to come.
We were saved because somebody acted rightly.
The onus now behoves on the Government to intensify security checks on the ever-busy Lafia-Makurdi express road and see how to mount not-too-far-from-each-other security check-points as the road is increasingly becoming a dreaded path for all commuters.
It’s on record that Team Delta emerged champions of the Edo 2020 National Sports Festival, a biennial national sporting event that features all the 36 states of the Federation, and FCT, Abuja.