Former Nigeria athlete Seigha Porbeni has encouraged President Muhammadu Buhari to place emphasis on sports development in his second term since the sector has the potential to solve some of the country’s pertinent problems.
Speaking on his expectations of Buhari’s second term, Porbeni maintained that the ideal way of dealing with the crippling unemployment crisis that has engulfed the country is the engagement of the youth in sports.
This, he believes could solve the insecurity problems that have risen out of them unemployment.
He urged the President to a cue of Russia’s sports development module that has gifted them world-class sporting stars including top tennis star Maria Sharapova.
“The level of sports in each nation is highly dependent on the value placed on it by the governing authorities,” Porbeni said. “In the ‘90s, President Mikhail Gorbachev of Russia opened his presidential villa for kids to come and play tennis. Almost 20 years down the line, the Russians are everywhere in world tennis circuit. Pretty Maria Sharapova is a beneficiary of this presidential gesture.
“When you hear of nations such as Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, USA and the likes of South Africa and Kenya in Africa, you immediately think sports. But what has happened to countries like Egypt, Ghana and Nigeria? Simple. Their governments have neglected sports that once made them great in pursuance of internal wars and selfish political agenda.”
Porbeni continues: “Sports is very powerful. It provides both physical and mental health, employment, leisure and entertainment. It is the greatest convener of people that are not of the same party or club. What our government need do is to make laws binding all state governors to compulsorily implement a sports structure in their various states under a special lucrative sports budget.
“Any state governor that does not comply will have to lose future funds, and the previous one misappropriated deducted from their monthly subvention. Each state must be given a national sports structure, which includes:
1. Primary/nursery, where the children can play and acquire basic skills like run, jump, throw, catch, kick and general exercises;
2. Secondary schools for development and application of acquired skills to specific sports. A minimum of six competitive sports, and each school must partake in no less than 10 competition properly organized by the National Federations or State Associations; and,
3. Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, with no less than 15 competitions per school year, and minimum of three President Cup annually”, he told The Guardian.
In his active days as an athlete, Porbeni was an all-rounder, competing in seven different sports. He was Nigeria’s first decathlete, and it was Porbeni who introduced combined events into the nation’s athletics.