IMEGA 2017 AWARDS: My personal experience when professional golfers celebrate
It was the gala night! It was IMEGA Awards 2017!
The atmosphere was expectedly different from the sweaty field of golfing.
As if on cue, the common sight of golf caps, tshirts and soiled trousers were ditched for either flowing agbada, complete gentleman suits, glamorous dinner gowns and full traditional regalia of royalties.
The smartly and elegantly dressed ushers complemented the cozy environment, with disarming smile, welcomed my crew and I into the International Conference Centre in Ibadan!
The view inside the hall had so much to take in.
The hall was well arranged and adequately lit.
I settled into the nearest comfortable chair in a location where my view wouldn’t be blocked, while my cameraman took his position as I waited for the event to begin in full.
The night looked promising indeed, I thought to myself that the maiden edition of Ibadan Mesiogo Golf Awards 2017, IMEGA Awards, themed ‘Beyond Golf In Ibadan’ would turn out to be a night to remember.
At exactly 6:25pm, the Lagos based popular musical group, Sharp Band, started dishing out melodies to get us prepped up for what to expect of the night.
7:45pm, Mr. Yanju Adegbite and his co-compère, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Olaojeyegbe, took the stage to start the programme in full.
The night kicked off with Nigerian national anthem rendition led by the delectable Olufunmilayo, then followed by Oyo State anthem.
Mr. Yanju then took the microphone and started by acknowledging the distinguished guests in the gathering amongst, who were former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Chief Mrs. Anike Agbaje Williams, the royal fathers and many notable personalities in Nigeria.
After which Mr. Olawale Opayinka, the CEO 3e Actauries and Chairman, Local Organising Committee of IMEGA 2017, took the stage and as usual, Mr. Opayinka didn’t disappoint.
As the san of the soi, the Ibadan distorted pronunciation of ‘son of the soil’, laid flat on the floor to welcome the guests with a resounding e ku ile eee o!
He then proceeded into speaking extensively on why the golf tournament was slated for Ibadan in particular, considering high returns that could have been derived if such was hosted Lagos or Abuja.
Mr. Opayinka also attributed the success of the four day event to the supports received from Oyo State government and the hardworking members of local organising committee. He stated that the progress being witnessed in Ibadan during the administration Sen. Abiola Ajimobi, gave him the confidence to invite over 110 golfers from 18 countries in the world to Ibadan to be part of the tournament.
The chairman further explained that the main reason for hosting IMEGA 2017 in Ibadan was to make city benefit from the wealth in golf.
While unveiling events of the programme, he said thirty sportsmen would be celebrated across sporting industry in Oyo State, which has never happened before. Mr. Opayinka did not also forget to mention that over 200 local women were offered grants at the beginning of tournament week.
He closed his speech by advising everyone to contribute in developing Ibadan and making it great.
Awards recipients of the night included late Chief Obafemi Awolowo with IMEGA Lifetime Achievement award, late Chief Adebayo Faleti with IMEGA Heritage Award, Chief Kuye and Chief Anike Agbaje Williams with IMEGA Hero’s Awards.
Other awards are IMEGA Sporting Award and IMEGA Hero’s Award presented by Mr. Opayinka to Operation Burst, a crime fighting outfit of the Oyo State government, for its immense contribution in keeping the state safe which was not possible few years ago.
IMEGA Legacy award went to Chief Michael Ade-Ojo of Elizade, while IMEGA Inspiration award went to Arch. Dele Samson, chairman of BOVAS. IBB International Golf Course won the IMEGA Best Golf Course in Nigeria and IMEGA Nigerian Golf Legend went to Mr. Peter Akakasiaka.
Special awards also went to Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Major Gen. Mejaiyese, Major Gen. C.M. Abraham and the executive governor of Oyo State, Gov. Abiola Ajimobi.
IMEGA Best Nigerian Young Golfer, under 18 in male and female categories went to Bamidele Paul from Ekiti and Mercy Abi from Benue State respectively.
While the winner of the maiden edition of IMEGA Open was officially presented his trophy with the vote of thanks presented by Hon. Yomi Oke, Honourbale Commissioner for Youth and Sports in Oyo State.
All in all, the night was indeed a night to remember and from all indications, the old city of Ibadan was grateful for it.
The above was written by Victor Ojelabi, the Nigeria coordinator and editor-in-chief of TheOlojaBlog.com
Click image to experience the night.