AMINA ANEBI, Kaduna
Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong wants Nigeria to exploit the economic potentials of golf as a sport that can help the country earn foreign exchange as well as improve tourism, leisure and business.
The governor stated this at the First Nigeria Golf Federation Summit for Captains of Golf Clubs holding in Abuja.
He said those who are into the game of golf can testify of its unique opportunities for recreation, health and well-being, socialisation and networking, among others which are of huge benefits.
The statement which was signed by the Director Press, Dr, Makut Simon Macham, said “Plateau State being the host of the first golf club in Nigeria, Rayfield 1913 among others, understands the powerful role golf plays in the economy of a state and the country at large.
“That is why under my administration, golf has played a very significant role in boosting our tourism and leisure activities. This year, we had the honour of having former Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon commission the redesigned and improved Rayfield Golf course which has now been transformed from a brown to a green. We have equally continued to work on the Lamingo Golf course and also supporting the development of other Golf courses such as the Rhino, NIPSS among others,” he quoted the governor to have said.
He charged the Technical Session to look into the growth of the game particularly in recruiting more members and reaching out to young targets that would not only understand the game, but also embrace it and utilise the opportunities it provides.
“I wish to also appeal to the Nigerian Golf Federation to also improve on the hosting of Competitions across the country and also harnessing the participation of Nigerian golfers in international competitions. This is necessary because the game of golf in Nigeria must move from being a leisure sport to a money making exercise as obtained abroad. This calls for synergy between the Government, private sector and the golfing community in Nigeria towards making sure that the game is put on the front burner of sporting activities in Nigeria. I am sure this Technical Session will do justice to such yearning and chart a way forward” he said.
Minister of Sports Sunday Dare assured that the Federal Government would continue to work at improving sporting activities including golf, which he said was a unique sport with global recognition, fortune and fame.
While urging the summit to come up with various strategies on how to demystify the sport and let people know that it is not an exclusive sport of the elite, the minister promised more funding for golf infrastructure, competitions, and talent discovery as well as export, in the future budgets of the ministry.
President, the Nigeria Golf Federation, Otunba Segun Runsewe thanked Governor Lalong for his commitment to the game of golf and his exemplary sponsorship of the game and development of infrastructure in Plateau State.
He said Lalong is a model of golf promotion who has developed a golf course within the Plateau Government House which enables government officials an opportunity to refresh while delivering service to the people.
He said the sport has not only gained ground in the state but also created job and income opportunities for the players and citizens in general.
Otunba also assured that the outcome of the summit would be used to further deepen the development of the sport across the country, leading to hosting of the Nigerian Open, which stopped many years ago.