ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government has wooed the International Oil Companies (IOCs) and other corporate bodies doing business in the state for the development of sport.
The Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, made the appeal when a delegation of the Bayelsa State chapter of the Sports Writers’ Association of Nigeria (SWAN) paid him a courtesy visit in Government House, Yenagoa.
Ewhrudjakpo said the development of sports in Nigeria deserved more attention and resources than it was getting at the moment.
He insisted that the sports sector in the country had not been given its rightful place of priority.
He pointed out that if sports were managed profitably as a business, it had the potential to create several jobs for the army of unemployed youths in the state.
He said the government alone could not adequately meet up the task of investing in sport.
Ewhrudjakpo, therefore, called on oil firms including the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), and other corporate organizations to collaborate with the state government to invest in the promotion of sport in the state.
According to him, plans are underway for the local governments to organise sport festivals for the identification and development of budding talents.
He lamented the paucity of resources as a limiting factor in its sports agenda and called on the state chapter of SWAN to support the advocacy for corporate sponsorship of sporting activities and programmes.
Describing SWAN as a household name in the sphere of sport development in the country, he assured the body that government would look into their demands within the limits of available resources.
Ewhrudjakpo said, “The Sports Writers’ Association of Nigeria (SWAN) is quite a famous name, and a very essential member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists. The role of the sports writer is the glory of all sports competitions.
“That is why we need your collaboration to drive our sports agenda. We want the SWAN to help us write in t his direction. SWAN should spearhead this campaign for multinational companies like SPDC, NAOC, Aiteo and others to partner and collaborate with government.”
Earlier, the Chairman of the Bayelsa chapter of the SWAN, Mr. Datonye Alambo, commended the Governor Douye Diri administration for the outstanding achievements of the state in sport competitions, especially the double-headed Aiteo/FA Cup victories last season, and also emerging third at the National Sports Festival held in Edo State.
Alambo, however, appealed to government for support towards the SWAN capacity-building workshop for its members, and the provision of a bus to enhance mobility of members to national sport meets.
He also appealed to the Bayelsa State Government to build more sport facilities like mini stadia across the eight LGAs, as well as provide a secretariat for SWAN in Yenagoa, the state capital.
Datonye said: “It will always be on record that it is under this administration that Bayelsa State won the men and women cups, the first and only time that is happening in the country.
“Similarly the state’s contingent had a podium placement by finishing among the top three for the first time ever in the history of the National Sports Festival at the 20th edition in Edo State.
“To build capacity for our members especially the young and up coming sports journalists in Bayelsa State, we intend to organise a capacity building workshop to equip them with modern reporting skills and further expose them to digital and online sports journalism to enable members compete among their peers anywhere in the world and equally make them relevant, self reliant and productive.”