…Says Sports A Major Tool For Economic Growth In African
Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Friday received former Super Eagles players, Kanu Nwankwo, Finidi George and Victor Ikpeba in company with other African football legends as guests at the Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja.
The Governor is hosting the assemblage of ex African football play makers toward their participation in a testimonial match on Saturday to mark his exit as the state Governor and he has urged African countries to explore the possibility of growing their economies through sports.
He added that the sense of brotherhood in sports must be played up for the benefits of the continent in terms of scaling up the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of African countries.
Other soccer giants for the match include El Hadji Diouf, Diomansy Kamara, Didier Zokora, Khalilou Fadiga, Austin Eguavoen, Mutiu Adepoju, Waidi Akanni, Uche Okechuku and Seydou Keita.
Recalling an initiative of his administration known as Project T.H.E.S.E which stands for Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Arts and Sports for Excellence, Governor Ambode said right from inception, machineries were set rolling to use sports to grow economy and tourism in Lagos.
“We have always used sports to build bridges and there is this sense of brotherhood anytime that you switch on your television and there is an African playing on any line-up be it Liverpool, be it Tottenham, and that brotherhood is something that we can use to grow the economies of Africa,” said Ambode.
He added he had the dream when he came in as Governor to promote excellence through sports, tourism, entertainment and arts with some sense of hospitality to promote excellence.
He lamented that the countries in Africa have lost a lot of resources and economic growth “because people can’t match sports with the economy and that is the mismatch that we are having here,” as he queried the justification for Africans traveling to Europe to watch football matches while paying air fare, hotel bills to grow the European economy.
Speaking on behalf of the footballers, Diouf thanked Governor Ambode for the opportunity for him and others to be personally here in Nigeria to see the fans, vowing to run the show with exciting display during the match on Saturday.
Also speaking, Aliou Goloko, a French sports journalist, said Governor Ambode deserved to be commended and appreciated for making Lagos a safe place, adding that the soccer legends were also drawing inspiration from the purposeful leadership of the Governor.
“It’s very important for everybody to know that all these African legends came to Lagos because of the Governor. The Governor made it possible because when Waidi Akanni came to us and said we have to go to Lagos, there was no fear to come to Lagos. You (Governor Ambode) have made Lagos a safe place; a place of humanity and a place of solidarity,” Goloko said.