By Sylvia Akpan, Government House Correspondent
The Executive Governor of Cross River State, Senator Bassey Otu has offered immediate employment to his namesake and former Olympics medalist, Etim Bassey, who has been living on the streets of Lagos for several years.
Etim Bassey, popularly known as Ironbar, first came into the limelight as a weightlifter at the 1981 Lagos Sports Festival where he won a gold medal and won another gold at the National Festival Sports in Benin City the same year.
He competed in the African Weightlifting Championships in Port Saeed, Egypt, and won three gold medals, as well as adding to his achievement at the 1982 Commonwealth Games where he won a bronze medal.
Unfortunately, his dream was cut short at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles where he tore a muscle. Since then, he went out of sight and later sighted in the streets of Lagos.
However, following public prayers, the Executive and the Legislature led by the Speaker of the State House of Assembly – Honorable Elvert Ayambem went for his search.
And on Tuesday, September 12th the Speaker accompanied Mr. Bassey to the temporary Governor’s Office in Calabar, where Governor Bassey Otu poured out his heart at his namesake’s first sight.
“I am touched by the situation you have found yourself in and it is the right thing to bring you back home and get you something to do. What matters now is the legacy you have created. So, forget all that you have gone through and look to the future and this administration is here to see you back, and to contribute to sports development in our State,” the Governor said.
He added: “We will rehabilitate you. You are to see the Commissioner of Sports for immediate employment where you find fit so that you can be meaningfully engaged. I wish you the best.”
Honorable Elvert Ayambem noted that after a resolution by the State Assembly, he led a team to Lagos where they located Bassey, and persuaded him to return home as directed by the Governor.
He commended the Governor for always putting the people first and expressed the confidence that with his exemplary life, many more abandoned athletes will be found by their respective states and duly recognized.
On his part, the former medalist decked in a blue senator outfit expressed gratitude to the governor and Cross Riverians for giving him a new life.