• He has paid his dues, says Sports Minister
• Gusau, U.S.-based Okorie, others congratulate AFN boss

Newly-elected president of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Region II, Tonobok Okowa, got a red-carpet reception from athletes, coaches and officials of Delta Sports Commission on his arrival in Asaba yesterday.

Okowa, who is the president of Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), emerged victorious at the Elective Congress of the CAA Region II held at the Lam Palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra, Ghana, on Saturday. He defeated the President of Benin Republic Athletics Federation, Degon Vierin, in the second round 9-6 after the first round of voting ended 6-6.

For his victory, Okowa, who is also chairman of Delta State Sports Commission, is now one of the vice presidents of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA).

Some athletes and officials of Delta Sports Commission, who spoke with The Guardian shortly after the red-carpet reception for Okowa at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, described his election as a ‘clear reward for hard work and dedication to track and field.’

Former Nigerian jumper, hurdler and sprinter, Seigha Porbeni, who is AFN’s Head Coach said: “The Africa Athletics Region II is the biggest as far as African athletics is concerned. It takes someone, who has shown competence to be elected as president of the body. I commend Okowa for his hard work and high-level dedication to the course of athletics in Nigeria and Africa. With his election as the president, I am very sure the CAA Region II will witness a rapid turn around.”

Also speaking with The Guardian yesterday, U.S.-based former 400m hurdler, Victor Okorie, who is a board member of the AFN, said: “Okowa’s election as the CAA Region II president is good news not only to Nigeria but Africa’s athletics. I am so glad for his victory, but I’m not surprised because Okowa has shown his quality leadership in athletics in less than two years of his emergence as the AFN president. He cares so much for the welfare of both upcoming and established athletes. That is the way to go.”

Former President of CAA Region 11, Ibrahim Shehu Gusau, as well as Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, had congratulated Okowa shortly after his election victory in Accra, Ghana, on Saturday.

Dare said. “Okowa has paid his dues from the grassroots, in Delta State and now he is performing creditably at the national level. He has performed well since he emerged president of the AFN. Nigeria had a good outing at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, our athletes were incredibly fantastic at the Commonwealth Games and even at the African Youth Athletics Championship. Without doubt, his role in these successes were major,” Dare had stated on Saturday.



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