Giving the assurance at the Dinner and Award Recognition Night to commemorate the International Day of Sports for Development and Peace, President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, said government would provide the necessary incentives to enhance the financing, management and promotion of sports by the private sector.
“In the next coming years, sports will become a major pillar of the Nigerian economy.
“I want to note with satisfaction that Nigerian sports have grown in leaps and bounds, with the country’s athletes distinguishing themselves in various sports,’’ he said.
The President specifically mentioned the exploits of the female national football teams on the continent and in the globe, as well as the basketball team which won the African championship.
“There is also the achievements of Aruna Quadri and his elevation as the number one table tennis player in Africa, while a Nigerian also won the world scrabble championship.
“The nation is proud of the achievements of these athletes,’’ he said.
President Buhari further identified sports as one of the greatest unifiers which exist today.
“We are all aware of the amazing capacity of sports to bring people together in spite of different racial, social, economic or religious affinities.
“Support for football clubs cuts across age and social status. If there is a language the whole world speaks, it is the language of sports.
“This is why it is crucial that we promote and celebrate sports in communities, schools and places of work, both private and public.
“It is only sports that promotes peace and healthy living, physical development as well as economic activities all at once,’’ he said.
President Buhari pointed out thatsports was a major revenue earner for countries across the world, regarding economic activities.
He pointed at the English Premier League and the Major League Soccer (MLS) in the UK and the U.S. as major money-spinners for the countries.
“Advertisers, sports promoters and the media used the endorsements of famous sports stars to promote their products. Even, other professionals make financial breakthroughs through sports. The world of sports has become a bustling worldwide economic phenomenon,’’ the President said.
He then praised the United Nations (UN) for the idea of dedicating April 6 as the day of sports for development and peace.