Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers on Wednesday in Port Harcourt said any individual who is interested in seeing Nigeria remaining as a single united entity will always support sports development.
Wike, while reacting to being honoured by the national and Rivers bodies of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), said this was because of the crucial role of sports in Nigeria.
The national body of SWAN revalidated Wike’s position as a National Patron of SWAN at a short ceremony at Government House in Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
At the same ceremony, where National SWAN decorated him with the insignia of his position, Rivers SWAN also made Wike its Grand Patron.
“The impact of sports is very crucial in our lives. It is one thing that binds us, with no political party as a rallying force.
“In spite of our political differences, whether in the Third Force or in the tenure elongation group, there is always no differences among Nigerians when it comes to sports.
“The effect of sports is so magnificient, and that is why whoever wants this country to be united will always support sports.
“I, and all of us in Rivers, want unity in this country and we will always support sports development,’’ the Rivers governor said.
Wike, who said the accolades he had been receiving in the sports sector were not for him but all of Rivers, praised SWAN members nationwide for their contributions to sports development.
“Because of you, the problems that may be in the sports sector are always brought to the fore through your watchdog role. That way, the wrongs are exposed for us all to right them. I salute you,’’ he said.
Wike praised the SWAN national leadership and former National Presidents for supporting incumbent National President to succeed in rebranding the Association, assured that he and Rivers would continue to support SWAN.
“We assure you that, with this revalidation of my position as National Patron, we will not disappoint you.
“We will do all we can to continue to support you to uplift the association, especially in view of your important role in the Nigerian society. So, do not hesitate to let us know your needs,’’ he said.
The Rivers governor then restated his promise to sponsor national SWAN’s delegation to the AIPS Congress in May at Brussels in Belgium.
He also promised to sponsor some members of national SWAN and two members of Rivers SWAN to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Speaking earlier, SWAN National President Honour Sirawoo had restated the reasons behind the revalidation exercise, saying it was aimed at ensuring the Association’s National Patrons played their roles as expected.
He said Wike had however not failed at all times to respond to SWAN’s call for support, saying he is a big example to others, “because SWAN is like an NGO and relies on its Patrons to support it to perform its roles’’.
Sirawoo assured that SWAN would “continue to play its role of promoting sports in order to ensure Nigeria does not fail in its leadership position in sports in Africa’’.
The ceremony was graced by three former National Presidents of the Association —– Steve Alabi, Olu Amadasun and Saidu Abubakar —– who all delivered goodwill messages.