NUGA Games at UNIJOS will be elegant.

NUGA Games at UNIJOS will be elegant.

NUGA Games at UNIJOS will be elegant.
Picture of some NUGA representatives

The 26th edition of the NUGA Games concluded last week, with the flag for the 27th event, scheduled for 2024, being handed over to the University of Jos, UNIJOS.

Hours after UNIJOS won the hosting rights over Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Vice-Chancellor of UNIJOS, Prof. Tanko Ishaya, revealed his vision for the Games, noting that because it is the school’s first time, they will leave no stone unturned to ensure that the 2024 NUGA Games will be remembered for years to come.

In this Whatsapp conversation with Sportingtribune, Prof. Ishaya, who was elected in December 2021, observes that the hosting of the Games would not only allow the University to construct athletic institutions, particularly a High-Performance Centre, considering the meteorological conditions in Jos.

What are your thoughts on UNIJOS being awarded the hosting rights for the 2024 NUGA Games?

We praise God Almighty for providing it at long last. We have been pining for and anticipating this chance since the inception of UNIJOS. Our gratitude also goes to those who made it possible for us to get the hosting rights.
Professor Attahiru Jega, Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Jos, was on hand to provide us with all the assistance we required, which says volumes about our university.
Let me say this: obtaining hosting permissions is one thing, but we are aware that there is a lot more that is expected of us.

You have two years to prepare; how are you approaching money, knowing that the facilities for the Games are critical?

We were aware of the difficulties when we went out to hunt for these hosting licenses. We are extremely hopeful that, with the grace of God, we will be able to bring forth the facilities needed to hold one of the finest NUGA Games in the history of this nation within the next two years. The weather is already working in our favor in Jos, and no one can change that.

We also have the Plateau State government’s backing, and as I speak, I am pleased to inform you that the state government has dispatched the Commissioner of Sports to join us in UNILAG for the NUGA Games. That is to say, we have the people’s backing to make it happen.

As a result, we are not alone, and we will broaden our quest for funding to include not only the government but also individuals and sports enthusiasts. We have solicited funds from a large number of people. It may be of interest to you because we just purchased a sports theatre, which is one of the amenities we need to put in place for the Games.

Is it conceivable to display at least some of the amenities you’ve mentioned in a year’s time?

Absolutely! Not even after a year. We will be able to show off some of the amenities that we want to use as we speak. So, in a year’s time, we would have done a lot better. We are not going to unwind because we have a limited amount of time to prepare.

Aside from infrastructure, what vision do you have for the athletes who will compete for you at that time?

We enjoy sports and have a large number of athletes and coaches. We had about 200 kids compete in the Games in Lagos, and we ended in 15th position on the table. That is to demonstrate to the rest of the world that we intend to continue our preparations from where we are now. And I am pleased to inform you that we won a gold medal against the host UNILAG, which is quite important.

UNIJOS will not stop there; we will demonstrate significant commitment in addition to providing facilities.

What legacy do you wish to leave as Vice-Chancellor at the end of your tenure?

I wish to see UNIJOS develop as Nigeria’s top university in terms of educational standards. And to see it compete with foreign universities all across the world, not just in Nigeria.

What should we seek in terms of sports excellence?

We’ve already started preparing. We will now proceed with the establishment of a center of excellence. Not only sports, but any activity involving human kinematics, for example. So that’s what we’re hoping to do.

What value would this hosting privilege provide to UNIJOS?

As I previously stated, the hosting rights we obtained from NUGA will be valuable outside of the University as well. It will have a significant impact on the city, the inhabitants of Plateau, and the city’s social and economic activities. More importantly, Jos City is an excellent location for high-altitude training. In this sense, establishing a High Performance Centre would go a long way toward providing the essential infrastructure that Nigeria will benefit from, since part of it will include an Olympic-size swimming pool that will also aid in training, rehabilitation, performance, and recuperation for athletes and others.

What are your preparations for security, which is a key concern?

Of course, security is a crucial problem, and the Plateau State administration is doing a good job in that area. We will assure stability and peace by putting in place the necessary security measures.
Nonetheless, Nigeria is what it is today, and you will find security challenges in every section of the nation. The government is trying a lot to ensure that peace returns to all parts of the country.

From the standpoint of the institution, we have established effective grounds for ensuring that we offer some sort of security on campus in terms of the perimeter fences and much more. We are also asking for cash to ensure that we have at least some technologies to add to our security architecture.

So, in a nutshell, UNIJOS is safe for NUGA?

UNIJOS is safe for NUGA, and by God’s help, we shall hold the finest NUGA Games ever. We are also aware of significant areas of concern, and we will ensure that all that needs to be done is done appropriately.

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