Governor ‘Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, on Thursday, said that the state government would tackle the challenges of youth restiveness and unemployment through sporting activities.
The governor stated this while receiving the holder of the World Boxing Federation’s Super Featherweight title, Ridwan Oyekola, a.k.a. Scorpion, in Ibadan, the state capital.
The title fight was held in Ibadan in December 2020, where Rilwan Oyekola beat an Argentine to claim the World belt.
The champion had in his entourage members of the Local Organizing Committee and other sporting enthusiasts.
A statement by the Special Assistant (Print Media) to the governor, Moses Alao, indicated that the governor, who received Oyekola’s featherweight belt at the Executive Chamber of the Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan, explained that his administration would continue to support young talents as one of the ways to take them off the street.
The governor congratulated Oyekola on his victory, stating that his victory will encourage more youths to pursue their dreams, even as he urged youths in the state to emulate the boxer and make something meaningful out of their lives.
He pledged to support and encourage the new champion by promoting his dream, stating that the state is ready to host an international competition at the Lekan Salami Sport Complex, Adamasingba, Ibadan, which is being renovated and remodelled by the government, once it is completed.
It will be recalled that the Makinde’s administration embarked on the renovation and remodelling of the landmark stadium in 2020, while mini-stadia are also being constructed across the state to encourage sport development.
The governor, while speaking, also commended the chairman of the Ilaji Hotels and Sport Resort, Engr. Dotun Sanusi, for his commitment to promoting business and particularly sport development, reiterated that his administration will continue to partner with Ilaji Resort in its effort to promote business activities in the state.
Governor Makinde said: “Boxing has always been a treasured sport. I also believe that more world champions are going to be produced in Oyo State. This administration did not just decide to renovate Lekan Salami Stadium. We believe that it will be an avenue to bring up talents, give exposure to our youths. When I was campaigning, I did say then that youth restiveness needs to be tackled and sports is one of the vehicles we can utilise to do that.
“This is to show that if, as a youth, you are able to come up with your talent and follow it and we, as a government, are able to give you the necessary support, you can go places in the world.
“I visited Ilaji Resort before my election and I want to appreciate my brother, Engineer Dotun Sanusi, for his commitment to both sport and business in Oyo State and I can give you the assurance that the state government, under my watch, will continue to partner with you.
“Now that we have been able to produce a world champion, what is next? This is just the beginning, I believe. Just as Nigeria produced Anthony Joshua in the heavyweight category, there is nothing that can stop us from repeating that. The only thing that can stop us is if we don’t give the opportunity to our talents; if we don’t support them. That is why we will remain grateful to everyone who has put all of these together.
“Yesterday, when I was talking about insecurity in the state, it is a problem that we all have to tackle. Yes, we can take some of the youths to the farm but the sporting sector is also a big way of taking our youths off the street. I am glad that today, a live example is right before me. I am reluctant to say I will give him another car but the government will do things to encourage him.”
The governor explained that the on-going renovation and remodelling of Adamasingba Stadium will enable the state to develop more talents in sports, saying: “The on-going renovation at the Adamasingba Stadium is not just for the football pitch. That is not the only thing we are doing there. We are also going to revamp the entire place. I am looking forward to hosting another international boxing event there soon. I am also looking forward to the International Tennis Competition; both national and international being hosted out there.
“We are also looking forward to us bidding and successfully hosting a National Sports Festival very soon. The one for Edo State was postponed because of the pandemic but after this one, with our own facility, we will be ready to make a bid to host the festival and international Sport Activities.
“I also look forward to hosting matches majorly at nights in that facility. I told the guys to open that place up. Our darling Shooting Stars will have to play at nights, it will show that we are getting our acts together and we will also demonstrate that Ibadan and Oyo State is indeed secure for an international sporting competition.
“Those things that we have to do to produce more champions and also to promote boxing, we will do. I will do everything as a government to encourage talents like you and also to encourage businesses that are promoting competitions like this.”
Earlier in his speech, the Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Mr. Seun Fakorede, explained that the huge success was essentially driven by the patriotic and magnanimous spirit of the Oyo State Government.
He said: “I am pleased to place on record that Oyo State has always been at the forefront of leadership and facilitation of value-adding events. Barely two months of organization of this event, the state government, through the instrumentality of the governor, directed the SSG to inaugurate the LOC to commence and drive the process of organising this event.
“Today, all glory be to God. History has been made and the world title featherweight belt has been returned to the soil of Oyo State. Through this feat, we want Nigerian youths to draw inspiration from what Ridwan Scorpion has done. They will be encouraged to leave the street and join boxing even as a game.”
In his remark, the co-chairman of LOC, Dr. Rafiu Ladipo said that the significance of the match was that such a feat was achieved 57 years ago and that the repetition of that history indicated that the Makinde government deserved to be appreciated.
Ladipo lauded the Makinde led-administration for its efforts on youth development and the promotion of sports in the state.
The event had in attendance, the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun; Chief of Staff, Chief Bisi Ilaka; Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Wasiu Olatunbosun; Special Adviser to the Governor on Strategy and Political Matters, Hon. Babatunde Oduyoye; chairman LOC, Veteran Olawale Okunniyi and other members of the LOC.