Cross River State governor, Senator Bassey Edet Otu, has taken compassionate action to rehabilitate Etim “Ironbar” Bassey, a former Olympian who has been struggling on the streets of Lagos.
The governor, along with state officials, met with Bassey and expressed their deep concern for his situation while recognising his significant contributions to sports in Nigeria.
“I am touched by the situation you (Ironbar) 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.
“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,” the governor said.
Speaking earlier, Speaker Ayambem said after a resolution by the State Assembly, he led a team to Lagos where they located “Ironbar” and persuaded him to return home as directed by Governor Otu.
The speaker was full of commendation for the governor for always putting the people first and expressed the confidence that with the exemplary conduct by Governor Otu, many more abandoned athletes will be found by their respective states and duly recognised.
Speaking on the development, Ironbar expressed his gratitude to the government and could not contain his joy at being “Found and given another opportunity at dignity and recognition.”
Ironbar, as he is fondly called, rose to prominence as a weightlifter, winning gold medals at the 1981 Lagos Sports Festival and the National Festival Sports in Benin City. His success continued at the African Weightlifting Championships, where he secured three gold medals.
However, his journey took a difficult turn at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles due to a muscle tear. Despite facing financial challenges and resorting to odd jobs, Ironbar’s dedication to his community remained strong.