Onitsha marathon organisers unveil ex-Manager of George Weah, others as partners


By Tony Okafor, Awka

The promoters of the second edition of the Onitsha City Marathon(OCM) have unveiled three partners.

This is as the organizers proposed not less than N1billion for the the project ahead of the September 30, 2023, 21km race in the Anambra State commercial capital, Onitsha.

The partners of the project unveiled on Friday at the premises of the Onitsha Business School were: Afia TV as broadcast rights owners, Y&T Sports as a technical partner and GLS Project as marketing partner.

Introducing the partners in a World Press Conference in Onitsha, a veteran sports analyst, Philip Balepo and one of the promoters of OCM said, “Afia TV is owned by former NBC Director General, Emeka Mba while GLS Projects is owned by renowned FIFA
players’ licenced agent,John Shittu who also managed former Super Eagles captain, John Obi Mikel; Liberian President, George Opong Weah as a footballer and another foremost Nigerian footballer(Super Eagles captain) Joseph Yobo.”

Speaking, Professor Segun Segbosan, the Director at Onitsha Business School – the organisers of the Onitsha City Marathon (OCM) -said the marathon race was organised as a prelude to the Ofala Festival of the Igwe of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, Agbogidi of Onitsha.

Segbosan said unlike the 2019 edition, this year’s edition had enjoyed the backing of the Prof Chukwuma Soludo-led Anambra State Government.

He said the competition was aimed at putting Onitsha in front of the sporting world, stressing that the organisers would stop at nothing in delivering best of the Marathons known to history.

He said,”Besides, we have decided to encourage Anambra indigenes in the race. To this end, 10 Anambra or Onitsha citizens to finish the race will be rewarded, adding that the race would produce no fewer than 10 millionaires.

Deputy Project Manager of OCM, Philip Balepo, said the organisers would from July 22 commence a sensitisation exercise for the OCM within Onitsha from the Chuba Ikpeazu and the Achebe stadia.

Balepo hinted that 50 viewing centres would be provided within the state during the race, adding, “This is to ensure that all citizens of the state get an opportunity to watch the race even without being present at the starting point, end point or even within the routes of the race.”

In his speech, the representative of the Obi of Onitsha on the occasion, Chief Obiora Etukokwu (The Ubon of Onitsha) hailed the Onitsha Business School for its initiative in projecting Onitsha positively.

He said the Obi of Onitsha,Igwe Alfred Achebe and his cabinet were proud of the Onitsha Business School and all its initiatives.

He said, “The palace and citizens of Onitsha look forward with pride and expectation for the race”, describing the project as ‘our own’”.

The marketing partner, GLS Projects, represented by Seun Olayiwola, assured that funding the project would not be a problem.

Patrick Onyedum, Chairman of Anambra State Sports Commission, expressed happiness with the synergy between the organisers and his commission, as well as with the Anambra State government.

Onyedum, a former athlete and ex-board member of AFN said he was confident of the success of the race.

He said, “This is something I know very well. You are doing us proud by organizing this marathon in Onitsha. Majority of Anambra people reside in Onitsha. What you are doing will change the perception about Onitsha.

” Everything is not about money. This project will take Anambra State to another level. It’s a kind of turn around. Many people will start having another perspective about Onitsha.
“It will further advertise Anambra State as one of the most secure states in Nigeria. I love your team work; we will work together.”

Broadcast right holders, AfiaTV said they would use the race to change the narrative that used to portray the commercial city of Onitsha in a negative perspective.

Nnamdi Obanya, a representative of the Afia TV said,“We’ve shot an aerial view of Onitsha, starting from the Bridge Head, and people were surprised that it was indeed Onitsha. They felt it was Jabi, in Abuja.We want to change all that negative narratives about Onitsha and by extension, Anambra State.”

Mr Tony Nezianya, the Pubic Relations Officer of the Nigeria Olympic Committee ( NOC) was among the dignitaries that graced and endorsed the Onitsha marathon project.

By Ifeizu Joe

Ifeizu is a seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of TheRazor. He has wide knowledge of Anambra State and has reported the state objectively for over a decade.

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