Nigerian leaders, including a former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), have stressed on the need to use sports to unify the country.
General Gowon Speaking at the unveiling of the Unity Torch for the Legends Wrestle for National Unity Festival in Abuja on Monday.
He noted that sports could be used as a tool for national unity and development of the country.
The General urged Nigerians to support the Legends Wrestle For National Unity Festival, for the good of the country, at large.
Also speaking at the event, the Deputy Senate President, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, particularly harped on the need to develop school sports in Nigeria.
“You do not need a university degree to be a good sports person… what you need is a good skill and a conducive environment.
“We believe that if we are able to develop sports, we would be able to create jobs to ensure that some people who do not have formal education and those who do not have the opportunity of achieving much in education can also gain prominence just as their counterparts in Europe, America and the rest if the world”.
Ekweremadu noted that the bill to restructure sports, which was recently passed by the Senate, would provide a level playing ground for every stakeholder and also professionalize football in Nigeria.
“The Senate is likely to take the second reading by this week and we are going to give it accelerated consideration and then pass it into law.
“It is key to diversifying the economy and when you are diversifying you are not talking about agriculture and solid minerals; sports and tourism are areas where we have comparative advantage.”
Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, had revealed that the state intends to use the event it is hosting to promote the unity of Nigeria.
In his contribution, Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, appealed to the youths to make selfless sacrifice for the country.
“We don’t need to waste resources in other things in search of posterity and stability; there is only one miracle we can do to unite this country and keep young people engaged and that is to engage in sports.
“A country that neglects its investment in the youths and sports is investing in building a cartel of criminals for tomorrow.”
Promoter of the wrestling festival, Osita Offor ( a.k.a Dee Ultimate Commander), said the event would be used as platform to showcase an array of internationally revered wrestlers, who will be fighting for the peace and unity of the nation.
He disclosed that about 20 wrestlers from around the world would be participating at the event, adding that the two-day programme would not only showcase wrestling bouts, but also feature the best of Nigerian musicians, comedians and presentation of awards to the country’s living and past heroes.
Other dignitaries also at the unveiling include a former Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro and Enugu State Commissioner for Sports, Charles Ndukwe.
The Legends Wrestle For National Unity Festival will hold in Enugu on December 9 and 10 with over 20 wrestlers drawn from across the world featuring in different contests in the event.