Former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, at the weekend described sports as the most effective instrument for employment generation in the country.
Speaking when the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) paid a courtesy visit on him in Sagamu, the former governor said if properly harnessed, sports can be used to tackle unemployment and open doors for economic prosperity.
Otunba Daniel who was conferred with the award of national patron of the association challenged government and wealthy Nigerians to do more and invest effectively in the sector.
According to him, “sports is the most effective instrument of employment generation, it is the greatest instrument of economic emancipation.”
He specifically called on wealthy Nigerians like Aliko Dangote and Mike Adenuga Jnr to invest in sports in the country as a way of contributing to manpower development and empowerment.
“There is nothing wrong in trying to acquire Arsenal FC of England but a percentage of that money can turn around the Nigerian professional league if channeled into it,” stressed the former Ogun State chief executive.
While thanking SWAN for recognizing his contribution to sports development in Ogun State, Otunba Daniel said the award should have gone to his Commissioner of Sports, Bukola Olapade, who he said worked tirelessly to fulfill the vision of his administration in sports.
“Our achievements in the sports sector was part a prepared document with which we ran the state during our first tenure,” he recalled.
Otunba Daniel said sports was part of the major avenues through which his administration brought Ogun State into the consciousness of people and national limelight through the hosting of the National Sports Festival in 2006 and the U-17 World Cup in 2009.
He added that in hosting these events, other sectors of the state’s economy and infrastructure were opened to development.
National President of SWAN, Mr Honour Sirawoo, commended Daniel for his vision in promoting sports during his tenure leading to the provision of sports facilities in different parts of the state, in addition to hosting national and international competitions.
Sirawoo, who was full of accolades for Daniel for his commitment to sports development, stressed that the vision of the former governor aligns with the direction of the new national SWAN executive, especially in the area of using sports to generate employment and positive image for the country.
According to him, “I was amazed when I visited the stadium at Ijebu Ode, beheld all the facilities and was told that there were three others the governor built while he was in the office. This shows that he has special interest in sports.
“There are three key sectors to sports namely the developer, participation and promotion. As sports journalists, we have fundamental roles in sports development; we check what happens and report what happens. We came here to recognize excellence, for you have done well for sports development.”
The SWAN boss emphasized that the era of oil boom was gone, stating that sports represents the new frontier to tackle the issue of poverty and insecurity, massive investment opportunities, source of foreign exchange and export of talents.
Sirawoo suggested to governors that if they use part of their security votes to promote sports in their various states, it is capable of reducing crime considerably, while also serving as avenues to discover talents.