Nyesom Wike: Remove politics from sports

Rivers governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has said Nigeria may never fully actualise the sporting potentials in the country if political considerations are allowed to always interfere with what happens within the sports industry.

Wike made the observation while speaking with journalists on Sunday evening at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Omagwa, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.

Wike watched the match between Rivers United Football Club and Gombe United Football Club at the stadium used to mark the final match in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), and it ended in favour of Rivers Untied F.C 1-0.

The event was also used for the coronation of Rivers United F.C. of Rivers State who is the Champion of Nigeria Football League 2021/2022 Season.

Wike stated that those who should superintend over sports affairs in Nigeria should be season sports administrators and be allowed to man the sector professionally.

The governor also pointed out that the random selection of persons to satisfy quota consideration has not truly been of any help in identifying the best talents and this has frustrated the growth of sports on an enduring scale in the country.

“Let us remove politics from sports. Let’s go for the best. NFF, the Super Eagles, Falcons, we must do things based on merit, getting those who are qualified.

“Let us not say take this from East, take from South, take from West, and take from North in order to make up the list, no. That won’t be the best for us.

“I want Nigerians to know that sports should go beyond politics. Sports should not be confined to the political arena. We should allow people who have the talents, we should allow people who have the capacity to develop sports in Nigeria on board.”

Wike expressed delight over the victory clinched by the Rivers United F.C. as the champion of the Nigerian League.

He stated that to put a team together to play as one and to win a trophy required firm leadership, which he encouraged.

“When I came on board in 2015, we had Sharks Football Club of Port Harcourt and we had Eagle Cement Football Club. I said, this is one State and for now (then), it is important to put our talents together so we will have a formidable team.

“It was not easy to achieve that and we didn’t expect it to be easy that way. But we thank God today that all our efforts have been fruitful in seeing that we have won the Nigerian League.

“So, leadership is key in everything you’re doing and if you don’t have that leadership, it would not have been possible for us.”

Wike said he was delighted that Rivers State has won the Nigeria League and will represent the country in the Champions League.

He gave the assurance that his administration will give the best support to Rivers United F.C as it prepares for the Champions League in order for them to return with the trophy from that competition.

Speaking further, Wike said that since government is a continuum, his administration has done the best it can for sports development in the state, and believes that his successor will take over from where he has stopped.

“The question is about what is good for Rivers people. So, I don’t think that any governor or government that will be in charge of this State after my tenure, will relent with what we are talking about in terms of sports development. It concerns youth development.”

Nigeria’s Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare said it is exciting for him to witness the emergence of Rivers United F.C. as champion of Nigerian League.

“I think that what is happening today is exciting for me. 20 games, and 10 clubs playing their final game and we are here to watch Rivers United being crowned the leader of the premier league. I think, it is exciting.

Expressing his expectations what the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF should brace up to do especially with their election in view in September 2022, Dare said NFF must do what is needful and give Nigerians fresh breath of air.

“You know, there is always room for improvement and we know that NFF must be able to take care of their business. I have said it, they have a status, they have a Congress they should just do what’s needful and give Nigerians the fresh breathe and support they need.”