By Bode Olagoke
The ruling All Progressives Congress APC and its governors have expressed greater commitment to sports development, saying they will deploy it as a veritable tool for curbing unemployment, secessionist threats and youth restiveness.
Already, about eight teams are currently participating in the ongoing weeklong maiden edition of the APC National Unity Cup Football Championship in Abuja.
Some of the teams from various states taking part in the competition targeted at hunting for talents to feed the various nationals teams include Jigawa, Taraba, Niger, Kogi, Benue, Nasarawa states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Speaking at the kick off ceremony of the tournament on Wednesday’s evening, National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as well as governors of Niger and Nasarawa states made the commitment, saying APC government was committed to use sports for creation of jobs and to solve youth restiveness.
Oyegun who was represented by the Deputy National Chairman, South, Engr. Segun Oni noted that; “Sports is a uniting 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.
Niger state Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello and his Nasarawa state counterpart, Sani Almakura pledged support for the competition, saying the APC governors are individually working towards the development of sports in their states.
Gov. Bello said Nigeria cannot afford to relegate sports, describing it as a potential revenue spinner for the country and an anti-dote to several health challenges.
On his own, the National Youth Leader of the party, Hon. Ibrahim Dasuki Jalo whose office organized 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 organizing 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 added that the party hopes to replicate the tournament in the zones and in the states.
The kick off was also attended by the Federal Capital Territory FCT minister, Muhammad Musa Bello as well as state and federal lawmakers among other party stalwarts and dignitaries while no fewer than 10 states including Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Benue, Taraba and FCT have arrived for the tournament.