Sports can solve Nigeria’s security problems, Porbeni tells Buhari
As President Muhammadu Buhari begins his second tenure as the commander-in-chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria today, former Nigerian jumper, hurdler and sprinter, Seigha Porbeni, says focus should be channeled on how to engage the youths, especially in the area of sports so as to reduce the level of insecurity in the nation.
In his active days as athlete, Porbeni was an all-rounder, competing in seven different sports. He was Nigeria’s first decathlete, and it was Porbeni who introduced combined events into the nation’s athletics.
He told The Guardian yesterday that Nigeria, a country of over 200 million people, with the youths numbering about 80 million, emphases should be on how to engage them positively through sporting activities rather than pursuing ‘internal wars and selfish political agenda.’
“The level of sports in each nation is highly dependent on the value placed on it by the governing authorities,” Porbeni said. “In the ‘90s, President Mikhail Gorbachev of Russia opened his presidential villa for kids to come and play tennis. Almost 20 years down the line, the Russians are everywhere in world tennis circuit. Pretty Maria Sharapova is a beneficiary of this presidential gesture.
“When you hear of nations such as Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, USA and the likes of South Africa and Kenya in Africa, you immediately think sports. But what has happened to countries like Egypt, Ghana and Nigeria? Simple. Their governments have neglected sports that once made them great in pursuance of internal wars and selfish political agenda.”
Porbeni continues: “Sports is very powerful. It provides both physical and mental health, employment, leisure and entertainment. It is the greatest convener of people that are not of the same party or club. What our government need do is to make laws binding all state governors to compulsorily implement a sports structure in their various states under a special lucrative sports budget.
“Any state governor that does not comply will have to loose future funds, and previous one misappropriated deducted from their monthly subvention. Each state must be given a national sports structure, which includes:
1. Primary/nursery, where the children can play and acquire basic skills like run, jump, throw, catch, kick and general exercises;
2. Secondary schools for development and application of acquired skills to specific sports. A minimum of six competitive sports, and each school must partake in no less than 10 competition properly organized by the National Federations or State Associations; and,
3. Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, with no less than 15 competitions per school year, and minimum of three President Cup annually.”
Porbeni wants Buhari to appoint a minister, who has a sports related background for the nation’s sports to have a fresh breath.