By Ikeddy ISIGUZO
IT is not for nothing that he relishes being called the sports aficionado. What do you make of someone who was watching official football matches, as a boy, before Vipers of Benin became Bendel Insurance? Or discusses football with a punctiliousness that litters data, dates, and darts along the way? He can put you on trial for mixing up a date.
How do you cope with discussing sports with him when he draws from different fountains of evidences – literature, literacy, and personal participation? He has been involved.
Ordinarily, he is Godwin Dudu-Orumen, but there is nothing ordinary about the lawyer who counts many judges and former Governors and Ministers like Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN, Senator Liyel lmoke and Dr. Godswill Akpabio as class-mates either at the University of Benin or the Nigeria Law School. However, his forte is sports. He sets Journalism, Sports Marketing, Sports Concept Development and Management, Athlete Development/Management in cascades to Arbitration, Mergers, Acquisitions and Management of Sports Facilities, Sports Business Facilitation.
Dudu-Orumen has managed these with a practical ease that earns him respect, criticisms, and outright cynicisms when he airs he views. He does not seem to consider what reception awaits his views before airing them. He speaks with boldness and candour that could rattle those opposed to him, and the numbers are not few.
When he accepted to serve in the Technical Committee of the Nigeria Football Association, NFA, (as the law still recognises the football body) people were more concerned with what the Committee would get wrong than the results it achieved in the uncharted waters of a technical direction for the game.
A supporter of Chelsea Football Club, on the international scene, he dares any of today’s football pundits to stake a claim to club supportership before their teenage years. Did they read Shoot, the magazine of the day that brought English football to Nigeria before television? Their response in the main is to needle him each time Chelsea put up one of their pathetic performances.
With his roots firmly planted in his native Oke Old Site, Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State, he grew up in Sapele, Ibadan, and Benin City, acquiring the rustiness and cosmopolitan virtues of the locations in appropriate proportions.
Dudu-Orumen came to national attention in 1989 when he was the aide to Chief SB Williams, Chairman of the National Sports Commission, NSC, when the Commission ran with a full board and took its decisions independent of the Sports Ministry. Yet his thing was football on which he ran a television programme, founded a sports publication that was football dominated, an entertainment centre, and then a football academy.
The Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, First Vice President, Mr. Seyi Akinwunmi at the kick-off of the 2018 Cowbell Football Academy, CFA, Summer Camp, said, “This is a laudable programme brought to reality by Promasidor Nigeria. We need to get everybody on the same page to harness the potential in corporate sponsorship in developing youth sports. People need to know the enormous benefits in this area.”
CFA was Dudu-Orumen’s response to tackling the matter of age cheats in the junior cadres of the nation’s football. Everyone laments the setbacks the cheats become for the senior national teams without doing much about them. There are a couple of football academies, but Dudu-Orumen takes pride in the professionalism he brings into running his.
Nduka Irabor, a former Chairman of the League Management Company, praised the programme, saying, “The only way to start developing the sports sector is starting early like Promasidor Nigeria has done. We cannot produce the next Kanu Nwankwo or Austin Jay Jay Okocha except we start grooming young talents at tender age. Unfortunately, many corporate organisations do not want to sponsor grassroots football. All the banks and big manufacturing companies had football clubs.”
These days the current Executive Chairman Edo State Sports Commission is mostly found in Benin City on the assignment to transform sports in the State through a new structure. Since 2018, Dudu-Orumen has buried himself in the tasks that include getting Edo State to host the National Sports Festival. The only time the Festival held in Benin City was in 1981 under Bendel State.
COVID-19 has stalled the hosting of the Festival that was to commence in March 2020. Other plans of the Commission have also been on hold after the excitements that the renovation of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium occasioned. Enthusiasts has awaited the return of full sports to the facilities that laid forlorn for years.
A momentous day as Executive Chairman of Edo State Sports Commission came on 2 October 2019 when the Edo State House of Assembly passed the bill establishing the Commission. Dudu was appointed a year earlier by an Executive Order that Governor Godwin Obaseki made. “This is a momentous day in the annals of sports development in Edo State. From this day on, the fortunes of sports in the state can only improve. And this has come through the commitment and dedication of members of Edo State House of Assembly led by Speaker Franklin Okiye,” Dudu-Orumen told the media.
What has Dudu-Orumen done in almost two years of being in Benin City? We thought he would have done a lot with his knowledge of sports. These capture some of the concerns of friends and foes about his performance on his assignment.
“I am still on page one of the things I want to do at the Commission,” Dudu-Orumen once said. “Let’s just leave it at that for now.”
Some close to him in Benin City tell stories of resistances to the change that the transition from the Ministry to the Commission has brought. Others mention unresolved political obstacles that bog down implementation of decisions.
The political temperature of the State has focused government on the immediate. The long-term planning that the Commission requires to get its work to the public are still on-going.
As he turns 62 today, we wish him happy birthday and look forward to seeing him make the difference in Edo sports. He has worthy examples to follow, including the foundations that Brigadier Samuel Ogbemudia laid – more than 50 years ago – when Dudu-Orumen was watching Benin Vipers at the stadium now named after Ogbemudia.