The first Professor of Sports in Africa and Vice Chancellor, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, ABUAD, Michael Ajisafe, wants governments at all levels and other stakeholders to explore the sports sector as a veritable tool for youth empowerment towards tackling restiveness and other vices militating against national development.
Professor Ajisafe who was also the pioneer Director, National Institute for Sports, Lagos, made the call in Ibadan while delivering the July edition of SWAN Seat Lecture of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN, Oyo State Chapter.
Professor Ajisafe explained that governments needed to invest in sports towards capturing the attention of youths as agents of peace and national development.
He argued that sports as tool for national integration, had over the years created platforms for youth engagement, training and economic growth.
He noted that investment would expose the youths to sports as a game, academic discipline, professional careers as well as business opportunities.
In a goodwill message, Vice Chancellor, University of Ilorin, who was the Distinguished Guest of Honour, Professor Sulyman Abdulkareem, represented by Director UNILORIN Sports Council, Professor Olufunmilola Dominic, noted that, the University had been prioritizing sports development for talent discovery and youth empowerment.
In their separate remarks, the Controller, Nigeria Immigration Service, Oyo State Command, Mr. Abdullahi Saleh, represented by Assistant Controller Immigration, Dr.S.O. Aregbede and Commandant Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Oyo State Command, Dr. John Adewoye, represented by a Deputy Superintendent of Corps, Mr. Sunday Aleshinloye, jointly agreed that, sports has the potential to end most of the societal security challenges if properly harnessed.
Speaking on behalf of Permanent Secretary, Oyo State Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Bashir Olanrewaju, a Director in the Ministry and former Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Oyo State Council, Mr. Solomon Ayoade, promised the full support of the Ministry to Oyo SWAN leadership in the efforts to redefine sports in the state especially through its various programmes.
In a remark, SWAN Vice President, Southwest, Mr. Boye Ajayi who identified sports as the shortest way to fame, wealth and power urged youths to develop interest in sports to register their names in the society’s hall of fame.
Similarly, NUJ Vice President, B zone, Mr. Cosmas Oni, called on government to upgrade all sporting facilities in the country to add more strength to sports in Nigeria.
Earlier in an address of welcome, Oyo SWAN Chairman, Olaolu Fawole, said the programme was propelled by the drive of his administration to promote sports development.
Fawole implored governments and other stakeholders to concentrate on measures to harness talents and potentials through sports.
The programme which had in attendance various stakeholders in the nation`s sports sector, was rounded off with presentation of Certificate and Plaque to the first Professor of Sports in Africa, Michael Ajisafe by Oyo SWAN in appreciation of his immense contributions to the development of sports in Nigeria, Africa and across the globe.