Former Delta state sports commissioner, Solomon Ogba has described the death of former Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA), Dr. Awoture Eleyae (OON), as a great loss to Nigeria, Africa and the world in the area of sports.
Eleyae died on Friday morning in Benin City, Edo State.
Ogba, a two-time President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), and now vice president of the Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC), told The Guardian that the vacuum created by Eleyae’s demise would be difficult to fill.
“Dr. Eleyae laid a solid foundation for sports in Nigeria, and by extension, the continent of Africa. He inspired a lot of us into sports and he was a father to so many of us. We will surely misd him,” Ogba stated.
Eleyae, a native of Uzere, Isoko-South Council of Delta State, headed the SCSA from 1992 to 2004.
A member of his family, former Public Relations Officer of Delta Sports Commission, Mr. Sunday Edoge, had confirmed Eleyae’s death to The Guardian on Friday morning.
The late Eleyae was a member of many international professional bodies. While serving as a National Chief Track and Field Athletics coach, the late Eleyae captained the Nigerian Basketball team to the first All Africa Games in 1965.
He designed the Nigerian Institute for Sports (NIS), and became the first Principal of the Institute from 1975 to 1984. He rose to the substantive post of Deputy Director of Sports, National Sports Commission, and acted as Director General of National Sports Commission of Nigeria from February 1981 to May, 1982.
Born on April 10, 1927, the late Dr Eleyae attended the then Native Administration School (N.A.) Uzere from 1940 to 1947.
He obtained the First School Leaving Certificate in December 1947, his Grade 3 teachers’ certificate at the then famous Government Teacher Training College (GTTC) Abraka, Delta State, between January 1951 and December, 1952.
He attended the same college from January 1955 to December, 1956, and obtained his Teachers’ Grade 2 Certificate with six credits. He attended Nigeria College of Arts, Science and Technology (now Ahmadu Bello University) from 1957 to 1960 where he obtained a Diploma in Physical Recreation (with Distinction).
The late Dr. Eleyae also attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Campus (August 1970, to May, 1974), and obtained a Master of Science degree in Physical, Health Education and Recreation in 1971.
He also served as a part-time Lecturer at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. In 1963, he became Assistant National Honorary Athletics Coach in Nigeria. In 1964, when he returned from Tokyo Olympic Games, where he served as Nigeria’s Head Coach, he resigned his appointment as a lecturer at ABU and became a full time track and field Olympic Coach of Nigeria, a post he creditably held until 1975.
In this capacity, he attended all the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and all the All Africa Games until 1976.
The late Dr. Eleyae competed in many sports at all levels, from local and school levels to international level, representing Nigeria. He was Nigeria’s record holder in 880 yards race from 1956 to 1960. He was also a member of the 4×440 yards relay team that set a national record in 1950.
On special arrangements, he was seconded to Bendel State, where he served as Director of Sports from 1984 to 1986, and as Sole Administrator from 1986 to 1990 when he voluntarily retired.
After retirement, he served as Chairman, Bendel State Sports Council; Chairman, National Sports Awards Committee and Chairman Sports Information Centre, among others.
On January 13, this year, Dr. Eleyae lost his wife of over sixty years.