Governor Nyesone Wike of Rivers State has praised the Minister of Youth and sports, Solomon Dalung for the new direction he has given to the sports sector The governor showered encomiums on the minister at the opening of the Wike National Wrestling Championship on Monday at the Diete Spiff Civic Centre, Port Harcourt Rivers State.
The Governor also thanked the minister for the support and encouragement given to the people of Rivers State to host the African Wrestling Championship billed for February next year.
“When the President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation Daniel Igali told me that Rivers State will host the African Championship, I asked him if he’s sure that Rivers State would be allowed to host.
“He said that this minister was different and believes in the unity and development of this country. I want to say categorically to Mr President, that if we have more of this type of minister, Nigeria will move forward.
“When the minister paid a courtesy call on me, he said sports was one and the only unifying factor. He said that one activity that brings all Nigerians together irrespective of your religion, whether you’re a Christian or a Muslim, whether you’re in APGA or APC or PDP is sports.
“When Nigerians are taking part in any competition, if Nigeria wins, even your so called enemy will hold you.
“It is to tell you that sport is one thing that brings everybody together and we must have to support those who are at the helm of affairs of this particular field or sector.”
Gov Wike promised more support for sports and called on the Youth and Sports Minister to feel free to approach the state for any support to sports development.
“I want to assure the Hon Minister of Youth and Sports that he can call on Rivers State any day, anytime. We will continue to support you to move sports development as far as this country is concerned.
“The Rivers State Government will support the Nigeria Wrestling Federation to host the African Wrestling Championship in February next year.
“I will like the Hon Minister to come back and commission some other sporting projects and centres so that more people can come to Rivers State.
“This minister has proved that sports has no language, tribe or political party. This Minister has brought the African championship to this state irrespective of political undertones. This is the kind of Minister we need to support the President and unite the nation. This is one Minister that I have seen who has shown that development in Nigeria is key irrespective of your political party,” Wike said.
Earlier, the minister had thanked the Governor for hosting the National Wrestling Championship featuring 24 states, 12 Clubs and over 700 wrestlers in attendance.
“There is a genuine spirit and love for sports in Rivers state. You can be fake politically but you cannot be fake in your commitment to sports.
“This National Championship is setting an agenda for the preparation of Nigeria to compete in two months time for the African championship where we will be hosting over 54 African countries here in Port Harcourt .
“Opinions may differ as to why the choice of Rivers State, but permit me to say that sports has no language, no religion and no political party. Sports only need passion.
“In sports we have decided to restore the glory of Nigeria.
“In sports, we have resolved to partner with anybody who will support sports development in Nigeria. We have decided too to return Nigeria to the map of the comity of sporting nations therefore, our windows are quite open for partnership, support and friendship.”
Dalung also urged the athletes to compete favourably as this will serve as a yardstick for picking wrestlers for the African championship.
The Minister later unveiled the mascot and logo for the African Wrestling Championship while an honorary medal for distinguished excellence and development of sports in Nigeria was presented to him.