With the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium refurbished along with other 17 sports facilities to host the 20th National Sports Festival later this month in Benin City, Edo State government is setting the pace for other states to emulate on how to create the enabling environment for sports to thrive.
After conducting sports journalists on inspection of the facilities on Tuesday, Edo State Deputy Governor, Hon. Philip Shaibu insisted that government has no business running sports but to create the enabling environment for the sector to thrive as is done where sports is big business.
“What we have done in Edo State with the total refurbishment of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium and other sports facilities in the state is to create the enabling environment that will allow private partnership in sports business. Sports business is huge,” observed Shaibu.
He stressed that sports is an industry that requires those with the know-how to run it for profit.
“My Governor, (Hon. Godwin Obaseki) is an economist and knows that for Edo to reap the dividend in the sector, we need to create the right atmosphere that will allow players in it to succeed. That is what we have done with these beautiful sports facilities we have put in place to host the National Sports Festival later this month,” the deputy governor hinted.
Given Edo State’s pedigree in sports along with Delta State in the old Bendel State, Shaibu admitted that the new industry to be created with these new sport facilities, “ will not only provide employment but will held to check social vices and give room for our athletes’ careers to flourish. We were the power-house of sports in country before Bendel State was split into Edo and Delta states. We still have talents.”
Shaibu further said that ancillary industries that will spring up around these sports facilities will boost the economy of the state.
“There are going to be all sorts of merchandising businesses around these sports facilities. Sportswear shops, restaurants and other businesses will be opened.”
He hinted that because of the rebranding of Bendel Insurance FC, the state government made N26million from the sale of the home and away jerseys of the Benin Arsenal.
“You can imagine what will happen after the National Sports Festival when all these shops around the sports facilities will be put into maximum use,” he said with optimism.