Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers has assured that the Civic Centre Sports Complex in Port Harcourt, currently undergoing massive rehabilitation, will host the State Sports Festival slated for October.
Wike gave the assurance when the National Executive Council (NEC) members of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) paid him a courtesy visit in Port Harcourt on Monday.
“As a way of promoting sports development, the state is currently overhauling the Civic Centre Sports Complex built way back in the 1970s by the government of Alfred Diete-Spiff, the first Military Governor of the state.
“We are doing this to bring it back to what it used to be, so that rapid sporting activities can continue to take place there.
“The project, after going through the phases of reconstruction, will be used to host the state Sports Festival in October,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that that the Civic Centre Sports Complex has facilities for many sports, such as volleyball, basketball, hockey, squash, swimming, tennis, badminton and handball.
The governor said the centre’s rehabilitation was aimed at empowering the youths of the state, as well as keeping the restive ones among them away from unproductive activities.
While congratulating SWAN National President Honour Sirawoo, who is a Rivers indigene, Wike promised the state government’s partnership with the association to succeed.
The governor who is a National SWAN Patron, however, charged Sirawoo to work with members of his executive committee in order to succeed and uplift the state’s name.
“You should work together with your colleagues, because all of you were elected. If there are challenges, you should be focused in confronting them with a view to solving the problems and move forward.’’
Wike, who noted that sports writers are essential ingredients of sports development, said it was very important for all Nigerians to continue to work towards enhancing the country’s unity.
“I want you all, and the rest outside here to work for the development and unity of the country. There is no reason for anybody to work for the disintegration of our country which our forefathers fought for its existence.
“We should all desist from things that can tear us apart. We have been hearing news that terrorism, kidnappings and some criminal activities exist in Rivers, but these are on the pages of newspapers.
“If the state is not free and peaceful, will there be any cause for you to visit, or for any form of sports activities involving many groups from all parts of the country to hold?” he said.
The governor then donated a Land Cruiser Prado jeep and a Toyota Hilux to SWAN for the use of its National President.
He assured the association of more support in enhancing sports development in the country.
Earlier, Sirawoo had told the governor that the new SWAN administration would not only be transparent and accountable, but also champion the cause of sports development in the country.
“SWAN will help the country to use sports to diversify the Nigerian economy, since there is dwindling revenue from the oil sector,” he said.
Sirawoo commended the governor for supporting sports development and SWAN activities both in the past and now, saying the association would continue to support him in that regard.