Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue says he plans to collaborate with the youth and sports to ministry to boost employment as well as to create wealth for youth of Benue.
Nneka Ikem-Anibeze, the Special Assistant (SA) Media to sports minister, quotes the governor in a statement as making the remark when the Youth and Sports Minister Solomon Dalung paid a two-day working visit to Benue.
“Our state ministry of youth and sports will work with you. I want to urge you to include Benue in your provisional programmes, so that our youths can benefit from skills acquisition.
“This will also include youth policy formulation and training. We are soliciting that you, kindly facilitate our hosting of national and international sports festivals as this will open our state to investors.
“We propose a partnership with your ministry to host competitions such as schools sports, National Sports Festivals and inter-collegiate sports competitions.
“These activities will help us in identifying talents, promoting recreation and tourism as well as physical fitness of our young people.’’
Gov. Ortom also pleaded with the sports minister to use his good offices to assist the state in the establishment of a Football Academy and upgrade of the Aper Aku stadium to international standard.
He noted that the state lacked such facilities, where international activities could take place.
“We are also calling on the minister to assist us to establish three modern recreational centres in each senatorial district, a viable youth centre, as well as ICT training centres.
“We shall be willing to provide the support including a percentage of our security votes, where necessary.”
Earlier, Dalung thanked the governor for providing good leadership attributes to the people of Benue in spite of huge challenges facing the state.
He noted that the key actors in `the conflict theatre’, were the young people whose lack of engagement had predisposed them to be easily available for use as tools for manipulation by political elements.
Dalung, then, urged the governor to invest more in sports.
“I am here to inspect some of your sporting facilities and that of the federal government and also to invite your Excellency to invest more in sports especially in those sports like basketball and volleyball, where Benue had relative advantage.
“Benue must come back and take the lead in these two sports so that Nigeria can be represented in these sports internationally.
“If sports have enormous potential for creating wealth, tourism, foreign reserve earner and contributing to the health of the society, then we must try to diversify the economy by accommodating the sporting industry as one of the major industries to drive Nigeria out of recession.
“I therefore, ask for one third of the enormous budget of your security vote to be devoted toward sports development and Benue will reap from it,’’ Dalung said.
The minister later visited the McCarthy Stadium, which also served as Club House to Lobi Stars FC of Makurdi, the Aper Aku Stadium, including the main bowl.
Others are the abandoned swimming pool project, dilapidated Tennis and basketball courts, the APC Headquarters, as well as the NYSC Camp at Wannune, Benue. ##