By Nnamdi Okosieme
As he sat in his office on that humid Friday afternoon in July poring through documents, his concentration was interrupted by a gentle tap on the door.
Before he would raise his head to inquire who was at the door, the door swung open and in sauntered a familiar thickest man wearing his trademark expansive smile. This time however, there was a mischievous ring to the smile.
Ntiense Williams, the man who had just entered his office, was like him, a well known figure in Nigeria’s sporting circles. He was also the Head Coach of the Rugby Association in Edo State and a one time Technical Director of the Nigerian Rugby Federation.
That afternoon, Ntiense was on a mission. So, there he stood for a few seconds flashing that well known smile of his and before his host could figure out what was afoot, the door swung open and the office was “invaded” by nearly 20 individuals singing praises of the man whose office they had “taken” over.
These men and women were athletes, coaches and officials from the Edo State Rugby Family. They had come to express their gratitude to him for his labour of love on behalf of the sport in the state. Specifically, they had come to thank him for working tirelesslyto ensure that rugby became a scoring event at the Edo 2020 National Sports Festival.
When Ntiense had approached him and appealed to him to prevail on the National Council of Sports to move rugby from a demonstration sport to a scoring event at Edo 2020 National Sports Festival, he had given his word that he would do his best to make it happen. And he did just that. Edo State would go on to sweep the stakes in rugby at the Festival, thanks to his intervention.
As a measure of their gratitude, his visitors presented him with a sketched portrait of him, which he proudly displayed in a conspicuous corner in the office.
Such is the nature of Godwin Dudu-Orumen, the man his countrymen call the Football Aficionado. A man of his words, he goes the whole distance in fulfilling a pledge or promise no matter how difficult or inconveniencing fulfilling it is.
Dudu-Orumen’s life is inexorably linked with sports. A lawyer, journalist and busiessman, he is more widely known as a sports administrator and a no nonsense one at that. He was always going to live, think and drink sports for early on in his life he plunged headlong into it.
As a lad living in the Ogbe area of Benin City, the Ogbe Stadium was a Mecca of sorts for him as he frequently visited the facility to watch football, athletics. and other sports stars of the era do their thing. Before long he became friends with most of the stars even though they were much older than him.
The visits to Ogbe Stadium and the interaction with the stars were to stand him in good stead several years later as a sports administrator. They are proving very useful in his present tour of duty as Chairman of Edo State Sports Commission, a job to which he was appointed in 2018 by Governor Godwin Obaseki.
As boss of the Commission, his job has been daunting. A combination of factors chief among which are resistance to the change by the scrapped Sports Council old guard, and political intrigues, have slowed down his march to reposition sports in Edo State. They have however not affected his steely resolve. If anything, they have re-enforced his determination to succeed.
“Change is a difficult thing to accept. Human beings are naturally resistant to change, so I am not surprised at the level of resistance here”, he told me once when we were having a conversation in his office.
His stay at the Commission is yielding fruit. Attitudes are changing and professionalism is being entrenched. The presence of the unwavering and result oriented new sheriff ensures that all employees of the Commission including athletes and coaches play by the rules.
A remarkable quality possessed by Dudu as he is called by his close friends, is his boundless energy. In his 60s( he is 63 years old today), he walks and works with the pace and energy of a 40 year-old.
At the 19th edition of the National Sports Festival, which held in Abuja in 2018, I was
amazed by how swiftly he moved from venue to venue watching Edo State athletes perform.
One remarkable thing about him at the time and which abides till today is his love for cricket. He ensured that he watched every single match the Edo State male and female cricket teams played.
At 63 years, Dudu seems to be just revving his engine. Despite his accomplishments in sports and business, he says he still has a lot of ground to cover.
“I am on a mission to transform sports in my beloved Edo State. I want to take it to the very top. Sports is lucrative business, a money spinner with the capacity to pull millions of people from poverty. I would be quite fulfilled if I play a role in empowering Edo youths while helping to get its sports back on track,” he said in a recent interview.
Knowing him, he will pursue this mission with the relentlessness that has characterized his every activity.
As the Aficionado celebrates today, join me in toasting to the health and success of this worthy son of Edo State.
Okosieme writes from Abuja