WALTER FOLORUNSHO OYATOGUN
My country, my love; how sad the conflicts within you keep you stagnant and regressive. Daily I watch myself grow with the hope of you growing along; though faster than me so I can catch up, but slower you are and pulling me down with you. But my fierce spirit would not conform to your sluggishness and the struggle between them brings frustration to my body while you simply stand and gloat like you cannot be bent. Yet my spirit never dies: it longs, it fights, and it hopes and pleads for the aging body to be in tandem with it, so together they can pull you instead to bend forward for your progress, mine and that of our people. Indeed, the spirit is eager but the flesh is weak.
You stand and gloat, not from choice but from the power that be. The power that corrupts you and rubs off on the many gullible that bend to the frustration this power heaps on them. It can’t be right unless the ‘ogas’ at the top rule with justice, service and honesty.
I recently [28 March, 2014] attended the burial reception of Walter Folorunsho Oyatogun who died on the 14th of February 2014. He was the father of my friend’s – Layole Oyatogun [who together with her sisters – Moyosola and Mofebe – have cut niches in the broadcast industry like their father]. When I read through his biography and discovered the sweat of his work for the love of his country, my heart sank as it always does whenever I read the stories of my country’s true heroes who worked and laid down their lives for their country hoping to leave legacies that will not only stand the test of time but benefit their people. But where are these legacies for our benefits now: worn, torn and disappeared like they never were, because the powers that be did and do not care to notice or acknowledge the efforts and the existence of these works for maintenance and development for the people and the country’s benefits. How sad my love, my country, how sad.
How have you failed my heroes, dear country? Simple, your powers that be have made you a cult for selfish, greedy and pen-robbing thieves, whose interests are not in service and building with and for the people, but stealing from, frustrating and dehydrating the people and nation.
Walter, where are your legacies for me to see and enjoy? There are only piece-meals my own [and other physical-health seeking Nigerians] desperation keep aloof until these powers deem fit to eventually put out of existence by neglect and selfishness.
“… and for every selfish politician there is a dedicated leader’ – Abraham Lincoln. Our dear loving and dedicated Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, came into power, recognized and encouraged you. It must have been a breath of fresh air for you. Good for you because it makes you a lucky one. I will need to find out if there are few others you share this luck with. Governor Fashola thought you deserving of honour for your contributions to the country even though your works were neglected to wear and disappear. He awarded you with a – lifetime achievement award. And Sports Business and Media run by Spiff Agbama also gave you an Ever Green Journalist award. All well and good, but how better it would have been to see your legacies alive, green and growing to the peak you intended for them rather than wear, tear and extinct before your very eyes. Could the awards have soothed your muscles’ labour and cooled the sweats that together have aged and wrinkled you to the grave? Perhaps yes; for like I said you are a lucky one at all among the many who have slaved but seems that their labour had been in vain.
Here’s Walter’s works as related in his burial reception booklet:
SIR WALLY’S CONTRIBUTION TO SPORTS DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA
Brimming with knowledge, and an over whelming enthusiasm to develop his nation’s sports, Walter hot-footed it back to Nigeria and began working hard toward the realisation of his dreams.
v Represented Nigeria in 1966, in the Nigeria/Ghana International Boxing Championships. won a Gold Medal in the Heavyweight class.
v Was Sports development Officer Lagos Sports Council 1966-1975. He was seconded to head the newly established sports centre in the country known as Alakoro Training Centre.
v Pioneered the game of Volleyball in 1967.
v Pioneered the game of Badminton in 1969
v Introduced the Sports of Weightlifting with Late Dr Kunle Joseph
v Introduced Basketball at the Sports Centre in 1969.
v Introduced Sports Centre to the schools around the centre and brought the schools to the centre for Physical Training; Learning of Sports Skills; Volleyball; Basketball, Table Tennis and Boxing.
v Trained the first set of Nigerian Navy Physical Education Instructors. the program was arranged by Late Commodore Akinwale Wey.
v Organised seminar for Games Masters and Mistresses, on ‘Hw to Conduct Inter house Sports’.
The success of Alakoro Sports Centre, gave rise to the Rowe park Sports Centre. He became the Secretary of the Building Committee of the Sports Centre.
v He free-lanced for the Nigerian Television Authourity (NTA) from 1970. In 1975, he was employed as a Commentator/Reporter, till 1984.
While Walter was at NTA, NTA Sports produced Nigerian Sports Programs and broadcast live Sports events such as:
v The 2nd All African Games in 1973.
v 1st national Sports Festival 1973
v Nigeria/Ghana Sports Festival 1974.
v 12th African Cup of Nations 1980
v 6th All African Athletic Championships in 1982
v Others are: Commonwealth Games; African Games; The Olympic Games: Continental Football and Champion Clubs, FA Cup Finals and Challenge Cup Finals.
v He ran commentary on most sports, including: Swimming; Table Tennis; Boxing; Weightlifting; Judo, Handball; Squash; Wrestling; Volleyball; Basketball; Hockey; Badminton and Athletics.
Sir Wally, was by no means a local guru at his job. He officiated in several International sporting events as well. He was:
v Master of Ceremony at the All International Boxing Championships; Commonwealth, African and World Boxing Championships from 1970-1995. he also officiated at the World Wrestling Championships.
WALTER, served the following sports as an Announcer: Athletics, Swimming, Squash, Badminton; table Tennis, Cycling and Chess.
He was a Football Referee of Lagos State Grade 2, from 1979-1984.
He also served Volleyball and Basketball, as Referee.
Although Walter Oyatogun left NTA, that was by no means the end of his passionate love affair with Sports. He went on to establish a private production outfit called Hallelujah Video Services, which focused primarily on Sports Production and Promotion. His outfit undertook the coverage and production of many major sporting events for Television, including:
v Coca-Cola Table Tennis Championship
v Cadbury Bournvita Table Tennis Championship
v Dunlop Table Tennis Championship
v Lever Brothers Table Tennis Championship
v Nigerian Breweries- Squash; Snooker; Tennis, Athletics and Cycling
v NNPC – Weightlifting, Football (U-12) and Cricket
v African Alliance- Volleyball Championship
v Leventis- Basketball and Football
v Nigerian Security Printing- Tennis.
SPORTS FOR ALL NIGERIA
Walter Oyatogun pioneered the Keep-Fit-Jogging Program at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, in 1984.
The program was adopted as Sports For All Nigeria, in 1991, by Alhaji R. A. Adejumo, the 8th President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee.
Sir Wally, as he is fondly addressed by those who know him, lived and breathed Sports. He may not have reaped gigantic material wealth from his endeavours, but he died fulfilled, knowing that he left his marks all over the sands of Sports development in Nigeria.
He was bitter however, with the state Nigerian Sports had been allowed to deteriorate into and had wished to do something about that. But tragically, it was not to be.
I hear your personal slogan is ‘Fija Folorun’ [meaning – Leave the fight for God]; a very good slogan because only God can fight your cause to accomplishment. And with you, I leave my beloved country to God too to fight our good people’s cause to a better Nigeria with good leaders and people, good government and healthy development, righteousness and love.
GOD HEAL AND BLESS YOU, NIGERIA.
By Ifeanyi O.C.