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Bayelsa governorship aspirants promise to boost sports 

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Sport has become a major campaign factor in the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa State with three aspirants promising to lift the sector if given the mandate.

The aspirants, Senator Douye Diri, Dr. Nimibofa Ayawei and Kemela Okara, who are all seeking the sole ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the November 16 governorship election, made the promise when organisers of the Restoration Cup presented the tournament’s branded jerseys to them.

Speaking to the Tournament Director, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, who is also Special Adviser to Bayelsa Governor on Public Affairs, Senator Diri said as a former Commissioner for Sports in the state, he would prioritise sports if he became governor.

“It is on record that during my time as commissioner in charge of the sports ministry, our sportsmen and women had a robust welfare package. I never compromised their welfare and wellbeing. At that time, Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens emerged champions of the male and female leagues respectively. 

“Sport is a very important tool to positively engage our youths. A physically sound body produces a sound mind. That is the reason I exercise at least three days every week,” he said.

Diri commended the governor for enhancing unity and peaceful co-existence in the state through the Restoration Cup, which is also known as the Governor Henry Seriake Dickson Football Tournament. 

On his part, Dr. Ayawei noted that as a footballer himself, he understood the importance of sports in lifting the youths out of idleness, indolence, and criminality.

He said a competition like the Restoration Cup has succeeded in bringing the youths of the state together and has become a good channel to discover talents that abound in the communities.

“Seeking out and positively engaging our youths is a lifelong commitment for me. So, sports and competitions like the Restoration Cup would be well supported and the welfare of our athletes prioritised,” he said.

He said Bayelsa could have about N3.5 billion internally generated revenue monthly if a road was constructed to the Brass Island, which hosts an Agip Oil terminal as well as a proposed fertiliser plant and liquefied natural gas projects.

These projects, Ayawei noted, can comfortably provide jobs for no fewer than 3000 youths.

Okara, who is the immediate past Secretary to State Government, described sports, and football in particular, as vital and sure means of getting young people out of harm’s way.

“You cannot write off the huge multidimensional benefits that sports bring, whether in terms of character molding or in the area of job creation because Nigerian footballers now earn millions of dollars. 

“The Restoration Cup has come to stay. I am committed to this and will support it. I believe that by God’s grace when I emerge as the governor of this state, I will invest massively in sports,” he said.

In his remarks, the Director-General of the Restoration Cup, Mr. Ono Akpe commended the aspirants for their support, without which he said the competition would not have made good progress.

He solicited their continued cooperation to enable the organisers to discover more football talents for the state and the country. 

“Through this competition, we were able to take the Restoration Starlets to the Africa Youth Cup in Cape Verde, where they came third. That competition offered some of these young lads the opportunity to leave the state and fly in a plane for the first time in their lives.

“They returned to Nigeria and took part in the state league, which they won. Today, they are set to represent the state in the playoffs of the national amateur league,” Akpe said.


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