By Suoyo Ekubo
The Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike says his government is committed to engaging youths positively and empowering them.
Governor Wike stated this during the opening ceremony of the Uplifting African Youth Through Basketball Programme in Port Harcourt, on Friday.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Mrs Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Governor Wike said the issues of youths and young adults are very important to his administration, while expressing delight that youths are being built up with critical life skills in sports, communication, and entrepreneurial leadership skills needed for Rivers State, Nigeria, and Africa.
“This Administration is very interested in youth engagements, we want to make sure that our youths are very inclusive, participate, play their roles, and be well mentored and well-motivated to be able to fulfill all of their potentials in life, educationally, in sports, morally and so we are here to support,” he said.
The Governor expressed gratitude to the leader of the Organized Basketball Network (OBN) and his team, for their efforts and the support of the US Consulate, while urging them to visit the Real Madrid Football Academy in Port Harcourt, to appreciate the efforts of the State Government in the area of youth engagement.
“I want to encourage our youths that as you walk together in the next two days, you would learn how to be tolerant with one another and to know that gender based violence is totally not acceptable and that it is inhumane, I know it is just two days, but a lot can be achieved that can be life time impactful,” Wike said.
In her remarks, the United States Consulate Deputy Public Affairs Officer, Jennifer Foltz said the United States and Nigeria have very special and close relationship, adding that the Consulate feels this was the right time to do a sports programme.
She said, “Sports diplomacy is part of what we do, it is part of some ways we build stronger relationships between our two Countries, sports brings people together, and even if you do not speak the same language you can still play sports together”.
Earlier the leader of the Organized Basketball Network, Obinna Ekezie said OBN is a platform founded for the development of grassroots Basketball in Nigeria and Africa with a Mission to develop the next generation of World-Class African student athletes and consistently create opportunities to help them advance their careers overseas, through Basketball Scholarship.
He said the project uplifting African Youths is a project to provide inclusion and opportunities for under privileged talented African youths to learn important life skills through Basketball.