The International Sporting Press yesterday in Brussels, Belgium, honoured Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike with the “Power of Sports “ award.
He was nominated by the International Sports Press Association-Africa (AIPS) Africa.
Witnessed by sports personalities and journalists from across the globe, the award to the governor was for his remarkable fidelity in raising the bar of sports matters and using sports as a catalyst for development.
The event took place at Le Plaza, Brussels and was performed by the President, AIPS, Gianni Merlo and President, AIPS Africa, Mitchell Obi.
Sports journalists from 108 countries witnessed the event.
Presenting the award, President AIPS Africa, Mitchell Obi said Governor Wike was being recognised for the use of sports as a tool to engage the youth on the continent.
He urged Governor Wike to sustain his commitment to sports development, as more youths would be empowered in the state.
In his acceptance speech, Governor Wike dedicated the award to God, his immediate family and the good people of Rivers State who had supported his efforts at creating a new Rivers State.
Wike noted that the award would spur him into greater commitment to the service of Rivers State and humanity.
Also on Wednesday, Governor Wike presented a lecture titled: “Peace and Progress through Sports in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria” wherein he canvassed that sport has functions beyond its simplest form as a game to encompass a cost effective means for addressing a broad range of socio-economic challenges that impact on peace and human progress.
He said: “Arguably, there is no social activity that can match the role sport plays in breaking down barriers, bringing people together across nations, promoting understanding, positively engaging the energy of youths and in mobilizing support for social causes.
“ Therefore, event at the simplest level, sport not only improves the mental and physical health of participants; it also helps to inculcate such timeless values as honesty, hard work, obedience, respect, team work, discipline and leadership in the youths.
“And as you know, these are all useful values for creating peaceful and progressive societies, as well as for achieving national peace and basic development goals, including poverty reduction.”
He said states in the Niger Delta region recognise the special power of sports for promoting peace and development in the region.
The governor noted that in addition to sports policies, Niger Delta states all have ministries or departments exclusively responsible for sports development.
He said: “As a result of these efforts at sports development, our country’s national sports teams are always dominated by sports men and women from the region, who are competing with the rest of the world and bringing laurels to Nigeria.
“Apart from giving hope for a brighter future, unemployed youths are also getting increasingly empowered through the various sport platforms the region has provided.
“These engagements have successfully turned most of our youths away from violence and other anti-social behaviour, and thereby enhancing peace and progress at different levels of society.”
Governor Wike said in the last three years of his administration, the Rivers State Government had invested in local and international football development, national and international wrestling competitions, Polo, golf and the development of critical sports facilities.
He said: “I wish to reiterate our resolve to continue to tap the benefits of sport to advance social cohesion, peace and progress in Rivers State, the Niger Delta and across Africa.
“May I therefore use this opportunity to call on international donour organizations, sports charities, as well as the private sector to support our efforts with facilities, training and sponsorship.”
PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, Senator Osinakachukwu Ideozu, Senator Lee Maeba, Senator George Thompson Sekibo, Administrator of Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Ambassador Desmond Akawor, Attorney General of Rivers State, Emmanuel Aguma, Commissioner for Sports, Boma Iyaye, Majority Whip of Rivers State House of Assembly, Evans Bipi, Special Adviser on Politics and Strategy, Dr Gabriel Pidomson, Chief Glory Emeh, Executive Assistant, Research and Documentation, Dr. Jacob Beredugo witnessed the presentation.