By Raymond Ozoji, Awka
In a bid to stamp out cultism and dissuade youths in Awka from all forms of malignant and malevolent tendencies, the MD/CEO of the Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA) Hon. Osita David Onuko, has galvanised the 33 villages in Awka for a football competition tagged “Ifeigbo Awka Peace Cup”.
Ifeigbo Awka Peace Cup which is the first of its kind in many decades is organised as a talent hunt on the one hand and on the other hand, as a panacea to incessant youth restiveness occasioned by the fast lane syndrome amongst youngsters.
Youths restiveness have become recurrent decimals in Awka with many innocent vibrant youths loosing their precious lives to cultism, hard drugs and other negative vices.
This ugly scenario had persisted for too long with no viable solution in sight hence the timely intervention of Osita David Onuko through the organization of the Ifeigbo Awka Peace Cup to redirect and reorientate Awka youths of the dire need to refrain from all manner of deviant behaviours and negative vices.
Ifeigbo Awka Peace Cup competition proudly sponsored by JEZCO OIL NIGERIA LIMITED is currently playing host to 22 teams out of the 33 villages in Awka; with the ceremonial kickoff ably done by the Speaker of the 8th Assembly Rt. Hon. Somtochukwu Nkemakonam Udeze alongside the Deputy Speaker Rt. Hon. Chukwuma Pius Okoye at the Awka Township Stadium.
The 22 teams are expected to contest and compete for the prize monies of N1 Million, N500,000 and N300,000 respectively coupled with other consolation prizes as many sports lovers have already underscored the grassroots football games as a bold step taken in the right direction to encourage youths to pursue their destinies without getting involved in crime and criminality.
Onuko, whom dignitaries at the opening ceremony of the football tournament described as a grassroots mobiliser and crusader for youth development, said it has been a burning desire in him to help Awka youths retrace their steps and that the Ifeigbo Awka Peace Cup is a veritable platform to accomplish his mission.
Onuko said that the football competition is in line with Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo’s manifesto of a liveable and prosperous homeland. He also said that the governor is paying special attention to Awka and that in no distant time, a new Awka with all the necessary social amenities will emerge under his administration.
He said he was very optimistic that the grassroots football competition will bring an end to the insecurity occasioned by cultism and other social vices within the capital city.
Congratulating Ossy Onuko for the laudable initiative, the Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Chief Barr. Ifeatu Obi-Okoye, said that the ACTDA MD has gathered over 500 youths and kept them busy with the tournament.
Obi-Okoye who affirmed that the Ifeigbo Awka Peace Cup was a way of keeping young men away from crimes, appealed for such laudable initiative to be sustained on a continuous basis in other places, adding that the football competition is totally in tandem with Governor Soludo’s manifesto for youth development.
Contributing too, Hon. Obi Mbonu, who said he was not a member of APGA but loves Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo’s style of governance, noted that the grassroots football competition is a laudable project and that it was what they have been yearning for, for so long a time.
Mbonu said that if youths were gainfully engaged, there would be less intentions to commit crimes even as he commended the management of ACTDA for organising the football tournament.
Although he said he does not belong to the APGA family, he would continue to support Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo because he is doing very well.
The Deputy Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly and lawmaker representing Awka-South 2 state constituency, Rt. Hon. Chukwuma Pius Okoye, described the Ifeigbo Awka Peace Cup as a welcome development, saying that it is a way of taking youths out of the streets and out of crimes.
Okoye however implored stakeholders in other communities to key into the initiative as he believes that sports was a way to bring the people together.
In their separate remarks, the MD ASWAMA Mr. Mike Ozoemena, the Chairman Anambra State Urban Regeneration Council Arc. Michael Okonkwo and the President-General of ASATU Youth Wing Comrade Ken Okoli, all made very pertinent statements, saying that Ifeigbo Awka Peace Cup Football Competition was a way to reduce crimes while commending Ossy Onuko for the subtle approach to enthrone unity and peace amongst Awka youths.
They concurred too that when youths are kept busy, they refrain from all manner of vices inimical to their lives and not in line with the governor’s vision. They said Ossy Onuko’s Ifeigbo Awka Peace Cup Football Competition is in agreement with the governor’s One Youth Two Skills Initiative, the Solution Innovation Youth District, ICT Capacity Building Programme for Youths and some others which Anambra youths are beneficiaries.
Some of the dignitaries who graced the opening ceremony of Ifeigbo Awka Peace Cup Football Competition were Speaker Anambra State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Somtochukwu Nkemakonam Udeze; Deputy Speaker Rt. Hon. Chukwuma Pius Okoye; Member Representing Awka 1, Hon. Nigeria Mbachu; State Chairman of APGA, Chief Barr. Ifeatu Obiokoye; JEZCO OIL NIG. LTD; Chairman Anambra State Sports Commission – Patrick Estate; MD Anambra State ICT Agency Mr. Fred Agbata; MD ASWAMA Mr. Mike Ozoemene; Chairman Urban Regeneration Council Arch. Mike Okonkwo; SPAD Legislature, Rt. Hon. Anayo Nnebe; Ichele Awka, TC Chairman Awka South Mr. ThankGod Anagor; Fmr. PDP State House of Assembly Aspirant Uche Collins, amongst many others.
The opening match was between ACTDA FC and Umudioka FC which ended 5-1 in favour of Umudioka FC at the Awka Township Stadium.