Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has kick-started a football tournament with the aim of forging unity and patriotism among Nigerian youths.
About eight teams are currently participating in the week-long maiden edition of the APC soccer competition tagged “National Unity Cup Football Championship” in Abuja.
The teams taking part in the competition are from Jigawa, Taraba, Niger, Kogi, Benue, Nasarawa states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Speaking at the kick-off ceremony of the tournament, National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun said the APC government was committed to using sports to create jobs and to solve youth restiveness.
Oyegun who was represented by the Deputy National Chairman, South, Segun Oni noted that; “Sports is a unifying factor that binds people together irrespective of their ethnic and religious inclination. As a party, we are committed to the development of sports and our government will continue to use it to create jobs, engage the youths and as well as for the purpose of national unity especially in this era of agitations.”
The party chairman expressed delight at the level of interest shown by the states in participating in the competition.
He said that APC and its governors are committed to ensuring sports development as a veritable tool for curbing unemployment, secessionist threats and youth restiveness.
Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello and his Nasarawa State counterpart, Sani Al-Makura both pledged support for the competition, saying the APC governors are individually working towards the development of sports in their various states.
Bello said Nigeria can not afford to relegate sports, describing it as a potential revenue spinner for the country and an anti-dote to several health challenges.
On his part, the National Youth Leader of the party, Hon. Ibrahim Dasuki Jalo whose office organised the tournament said the party hopes to use the avenue to spot budding talents with a view to assisting them grow in their football career.
“This is the first time a political party is organising a football competition. We decided to do this because we know that there is nothing that unites Nigerians more than sports. Another reason is to spot budding talents and help them make the needed progress in this direction”, he said.
Jalo said that the party hopes to replicate the tournament in the zones and in the states.