Edo state deputy governor Comrade Philip Shaibu says the world acclaimed and historic Okpekpe international 10k road race is returning bigger and better this year.
Shaibu also reiterated the commitment of the state government towards making the retain its historic and number one status in Nigeria nay West Africa.
‘The Okpekpe international 10km road race is back this year with the eighth edition and it has come to stay,’ said Comrade Shaibu at the press conference Wednesday in Benin heralding this year’s race. The deputy governor dismissed insinuations that he is against the organization of the race.
‘ The race is a constant fixture in the calendar of the state just as it is in the calendar of World Athletics. Nobody, not even I, Comrade Philip Shaibu can kill the race,” he added and revealed plans are in top gear to institutionalize the race.
‘ We have had a meeting with Pamodzi Sports marketing, the main organiser of the race and we agree on the need to institutionalize it so that it can live after us. That’s the level of commitment the Edo state government is showing,’ he said and revealed other benefits of the race to the people and government of Edo state.
” The race has helped the state government to showcase the giant strides it has made and it is making in the infrastructural development of the state, both rural and urban. ”It has also elevated the status of Okpekpe to a town because it is already on the map of the world as a destination of sort for sports.”.
Comrade Shaibu insists the race will continue to score first as far as road running is concerned in Nigeria.
”We are happy to be the first road race in Nigeria to have its course measured by a World Athletics certified measurer and the first to become a member of AIMS.
‘The Okpekpe race is also the first to be granted a World Athletics label in West Africa and our target now is to become the first gold label road race in Nigeria,’ he revealed. Continuing, the Edo State Deputy Gov says the ultimate objective is the become the first road race probably in Africa to be awarded a platinum label.
The highlight of the press conference was the unveiling of the premium multifunctional headwear which will serve as the face mask for the race in Okpekpe. ”You can see that we are ready for the race. For us in Edo state we follow all the laid-down rules especially as it relates to the health of both athletes and the good people of the state,” he said. The deputy governor further revealed that all athletes that will participate in the race this year will undergo antigen test for Covid-19.