By CAROL UTULU
ASABA- President Mohammadu Buhari has pledged his administration’s commitment to the development of sports as a pillar for national unity.
Buhari made the pledge on Wednesday in his address at the opening ceremony of the 21st National Sports Festival holding at the main bowl of the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba.
Represented by the Minister for Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, the president noted that sports has remained a rallying factor in the nation’s quest for a united one Nigeria.
He said: “There is no doubt that over the years, the national sports festival has been one sporting event that has continued to bring us together as one united people.
“This goes to show that we can always surmount any challenges facing us a nation with a united front irrespective of our different political and ethnic backgrounds.
“Let me say here that one of the cardinal objectives of this administration is to pursue national development through investment in human capital development.
“This administration would continue to prioritise youth empowerment and development through sporting activities to help our youths realise their potentials,” Buhari said.
The president called on the private sector to invest tremendously in sports to promote youth development and help them achieve international stardom.
He said the 2022 sports festival in one of the landmark achievements of his administration in promoting youth development and national unity.
Buhari called on the participating athletes to take full opportunity of the festival to showcase their skills and talents, as many of them would go on to represent Nigeria in international sporting events.
Earlier in his welcome address, Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa described the sports festival as a premier sporting event in Nigeria that had over the years helped to harness sporting talents.
“Sports in Nigeria has continue to help build bridges of friendship and unity among the various people of our nation.
“The national sports festival is one event that has remained a major competition where we harness the potentials of our youths for their development and the glory of our nation.
“So, to all our participating athletes, congratulations for making it to Delta 2022.
“This is the moment that you have been waiting for to showcase your talents after months of vigorous training,” Okowa said.
He commended the local organising committee for the festival for their commitment and perseverance to deliver the event even in the mist of challenges.
The governor reiterated the commitment of his administration to the promotion of sports as a veritable tool of human capital development and youth empowerment.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the opening ceremony of the festival was attended by four state governors, – Senator Douye Diri of Bayelsa, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto, Okowa of Delta and Godwin Obaseki of Edo state, who momentarily joined the Edo contingent in a march past to the admiration of the crowd.
Contingents from all the participating states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) performed the march past.
There was also the lighting of the torch of unity, signifying the commencement of the 10-day sporting fiesta and also the taking of the Oath of conduct by the participating teams. (NAN)