By OLADAPO UDOM
LAGOS- The Eastern Naval Command, Calabar, has emerged winners of the just concluded Nigerian Navy Games which started on Sept. 8 and ended on Sept. 12 at the Nigerian Navy Sports Complex, Navy Town, Lagos State.
The newly constructed ultramodern complex was inaugurated during the opening ceremony by President Muhammadu Buhari who said sports had remained a tool to strengthen ties between troops and instill discipline in the military.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that six naval formations, Naval Headquarters, Western Naval Command, Eastern Naval Command, Naval Training Command, Central Naval Command and Logistics Command participated in the games which featured 22 events.
Eastern Naval Command came first with a total of 167 medals: 56 gold, 55 silver, 56 bronze; Naval Headquarters with 51 gold, 38 silver, 46 bronze and Central Naval Command with 47 gold, 48 silver and 33 bronze.
Meanwhile, at the closing ceremony, the Special Guest of Honour, the Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd.) applauded those that won medals and congratulated the Eastern Naval Command.
Magashi said that the newly discovered talents who would represent the Nigerian Navy and the nation at national and international competitions had been identified.
“For those who did not win, you will have another opportunity to prepare for better and subsequent games,” the minister said.
He said that the construction of the sports complex, as well as organising the games, were a clear manifestation of the importance that the navy ascribe to physical fitness and mental alertness.
“These are the key consideration required by personnel of the Armed Forces to overcome challenges.
“I commend the navy’s effort to improve the physical fitness and mental alertness of its personnel.
“I also acknowledge the tremendous contributions of the Nigerian Navy towards securing the nation’s maritime domain for the benefits of Nigerians and economic prosperity of our great country,” Magashi said.
The defence minister said that the navy had continued to play significant roles in channeling security operations in support of sister services in addressing the current insecurity in various parts of the country.
“The task of providing security both within the maritime domain and on land is without doubt enormous that requires commensurate appropriation.
“I reassure the Nigerian Navy that the Ministry of Defence will sustain efforts to support the Navy at every level, especially as the country prepares for the general elections,” he said.
Magashi said that the Federal Government had resolved to make Nigeria safe and secure for all citizens.
The Minister for Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, said that a great number of sporting talents in Nigeria came from the Armed Forces and the police.
Dare called upon the other Armed Forces to emulate the Nigerian Navy.
He urged the navy to continue in its path of providing competitions as a platform for discovering talents and instilling discipline.
“I congratulate all the winners and for all the losers, you are also winners because in sports, in the spirit of sportsmanship; we are all winners,” the sports minister said.
The host of the competition, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, said that the activities facilitated team spirit, friendship and comraderie which were part of the objectives for organising the games.
Gambo congratulated those who won medals while encouraging the losers to see it as an opportunity to work harder and prove themselves in subsequently competitions.
“I hope these qualities will be further sustained for national integration. It is not ambiguous that combat readiness requires physical fitness and mental alertness.
“I encourage everyone to engage in one form of sport or the other as the resultant effects are enormous, such as improving the effective discharge of our constitutional mandate,” he said.
The CNS said that the navy had been positioned to contribute its quota towards tackling the security challenges facing the nation.
“I reassure Nigerians of the Nigerian Navy’s resolve to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment for socioeconomic activities to thrive,” Gambo said.
NAN also reports that cash prizes were given to the representatives of the Nigerian Custom Service and Nigerian Police Force who won the invitational relay and tug of war events, respectively. (NAN)