Government’s apathy biggest impediment to golf development, says Okoro
Ikoyi Club’s Dr. Innocent Meckson Okoro believes Nigeria would have become one of the leading golf playing countries of the world if the game had enough government support. He said the sport has not taken flight because rather than help its growth, those in authority undermine it.
Speaking after one of his outings at the Ibadan Golf Club (IGC), the Ikoyi Club Golf Section vice captain regretted that government has been neglecting golf’s big economic potential, adding, “the governments in Nigeria do not understand what golf is all about… not even the state, local government or federal. If you travel out of Nigeria, and step into another country, let’s take Ghana for instance, you will see that their government pays so much attention to golf because it is not a game for the small boys but a big tourism affair.
“Our tourism ministry is supposed to invest so much to ensure that golf is well utilized. Within the clique of golfers, you see investors, you see industrialists, employers, and you see high players in the economy of the nation. Unfortunately, Nigeria’s governments do not understand what golf is all about, the politics of golf and the entrepreneurial aspect of it and many opportunities that abound in the golfing community.”
The CEO of M.I. Okoro & Associates described the golf course at the Ikoyi Golf Community Nigeria Association (IGCN) as the biggest golf course in the whole of Africa, adding that Ikoyi Club’s corporate world is a huge one that can make any nation if that country knows how to tap into the goodwill.
“Having played on so many golf courses around the world and here in Nigeria, I will say that every golf course is unique, so no one is preferred to the other. They all have unique opportunities to offer.
“I am worried that government is not deriving benefits from golf. You can find great employers of labour in the golfing community; so, an intelligent government of any federation should key into whatever things that is being done in any golf club,” Okoro noted.
On his vision for his home club, Okoro identified course maintenance as his first priority, saying, “the primary investment is in the 18-hole golf course; whatever you can do to make it the best in the world, you have to show it there.
“My vision is to contribute my own experience and capabilities to what all the past captains have done… they have done quite a lot to bring the club to what it is today, so by the grace of God by the February next year, when I become the Captain of IGCN, it will be a turning point in the history of golfing in Nigeria.
“I have a lot in my brain that I want to show within that one year, and people will see a new beginning that never existed before.
“It took me solid 10 years to become the vice captain of Ikoyi club, but I can assure you that knowing my antecedence and my capabilities, I am going to be one of the best captains that club will be proud of. I’m a change agent, I can never come into any environment without leaving a mark, if there’s no opportunity; I create one to make my presence felt,” he enthused.
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