The Bayelsa State Government has solicited the partnership of international oil companies (IOCs) and other corporate bodies doing business in the state for the promotion of sports development.
The Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, made the appeal on Thursday, when a delegation of the Bayelsa State chapter of the Sports Writers’ Association of Nigeria (SWAN) paid him a courtesy visit in Government House, Yenagoa.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo said the development of sports in Nigeria deserves more attention and resources than it is getting at the moment, insisting that the sports sector in the country has not been given its rightful place of priority.
He pointed out that if sports was managed profitably as a business, it has the potential to create several jobs for the army of unemployed youths in the state.
The Deputy Governor said government alone could not adequately meet up the task of investing in sports.
He therefore called on oil firms including the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), and other corporate organizations to collaborate with thes tate government to invest in the promotion of sports in the state.
According to Senator Ewhrudjakpo, plans were underway for the local governments to organize sports festivals for the identification and development of budding talents.
The Bayelsa number two man who lamented the paucity of resources as a limiting factor in its sports agenda, called on the state chapter of SWAN to support the advocacy for corporate sponsorship of sporting activities and programmes.
Describing SWAN as a household name in the sphere of sports development in the country, he assured the body that government would look into their demands within the limits of available resources.
His words: “The Sports Writers’ Association of Nigeria (SWAN) is quite a famous name, and a very essential member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists. The role of the sports writer is the glory of all sports competitions.
‘That is why wee need your collaboration to drive our sports agenda. We want the SWAN to help us write in this direction. SWAN should spearhead this campaign for multinational companies like SPDC, NAOC, Aiteo and others to partner and collaborate with government.”
Earlier, the Chairman of the Bayelsa chapter of SWAN, Mr. Datonye Alambo, commended the Governor Douye Diri Administration for the outstanding achievements of the state in sports competitions, especially the double-headed Aiteo/FA Cup victories last season, and also emerging third at the National Sports Festival held in Edo State.
Mr. Datonye Alambo, however, appealed to government for support towards the SWAN capacity-building workshop for its members, and the provision of a bus to enhance mobility of members to national sports meets.
He also appealed to the Bayelsa State Government to build more sports facilities like mini stadia across the eight LGAs, as well as provide a secretariat for SWAN in Yenagoa, the state capital.
Datonye said, ‘It will always be on record that it is under this administration that Bayelsa State won the men and women cups, the first and only time that is happening in the country. Similarly the State’s contingent had a podium placement by finishing among the top three for the first time ever in the history of the National Sports Festival at the 20th edition in Edo State.
“To build capacity for our members especially the young and up coming sports journalists in Bayelsa State, we intend to organise a capacity building workshop to equip them with modern reporting skills and further expose them to digital and online sports journalism to enable members compete among their peers anywhere in the world and equally make them relevant, self reliant and productive.”