The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has said his administration is diversifying the state’s economy, sustaining investment in sports, culture, technology, agriculture and other critical sectors of the State to increase its Gross Domestic Product and boost economic growth.
Obaseki said this during a state dinner in honour of legends of the Samuel Ogbemudia sports revolution in the old Midwest/Bendel State and Olympians, Godwin Obasogie, Charlton Ehizuelen and Bruce T. Ijirigho, among others, at the Government House, in Benin City.
The governor, who reaffirmed his government’s commitment to grassroots sports development, said the government has made sports compulsory in all public schools across the three senatorial districts of the State to groom and harness the sporting talents of youths in the state.
He commended the late Samuel Ogbemudia for creating amazing sporting facilities in the then Midwest/Bendel State and also opportunities for youths to excel, which led to the discovery of Obasogie, Ehizuelen, Ijirigho, boxing legend, Isaac Ikhuoria and other Olympians.
He said, “Sports is about leadership as our father, the former governor of old Bendel State, Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia provided that leadership. He provided the opportunities and facilities and the youths expressed themselves the way they did and brought pride to the state.
“We want to thank these heroes. There is no excuse for us not to create the enabling environment for sports to thrive in the State and Country because it happened in time past. We have no excuse not to make it happen again.
“Someone built the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium and we came and improved on it and put world-class facilities that are of world standard. We have also gone ahead to build 20 mini stadiums across the State to achieve the goal of making the State a destination for sports.”
He stated, “We thank God for our sports administration as sports is now compulsory in all our public schools. We have a department for school sports in the Ministry of Education. Schools are now beginning to do inter-house sports and now have a hunting ground for talents. We can’t thank you enough for creating another world-class competition to help us encourage talents.
“It’s up to us who God has given the responsibility to lead to make it possible for the coming generation to continue in that line of greatness and create the platform for them to express that God-given talent and excel in sports.”
On diversifying the economy, Obaseki noted: “We are working hard as a government to diversify the economy of Edo State from crude oil to human activities such as sports, culture, technology, and agriculture as these areas will account for the GDP of our economy. We are working hard but there is resistance but we will overcome it.”
Celebrating the Olympians, the governor added, “We are to honour the labour of our Olympians. We thank God for their lives as they are Edo people and they represented us well. This means that there is talent in Edo State as the achievements of our people in sports did not start today but runs in our blood.
“We are celebrating our heroes and heroines. They are not just athletes but patriots. They made us proud. They deserve to be honoured and we thank the Managing Director of Air Peace for honouring these men.”