Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State has restated the call for oil companies operating in the state and corporate bodies to invest in sports development.
He made the call at the closing ceremonies of the 3rd Governor Douye Diri National Scrabble Championship held at the DSP Alamieyeseigha Banquet Hall, Government House, Yenagoa.
Represented by his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, the Governor emphasized that by investing in sporting endeavours, the oil companies and the corporate world would have contributed to the growth and development of society.
He stressed that sports was a veritable tool to positively channel the energies of the youths, thereby drastically reducing the rate of crime, social vices and other forms of violence.
His words: “I am disturbed by what the multinationals and International oil companies do in our state. By not investing in sports, they are either deliberately or inadvertently encouraging our youths to take to crime and criminality.
“I say this because whatever they spend to maintain the military and other security agencies to protect their infrastructure is still more expensive than what they will put into sports and our youths will stop disturbing them.
“It is a clear case of penny wise pound foolish. It will take them very little to put into sports and they will have their peace and freedom to operate.”
The Governor, who said sports was an integral part of his Prosperity Administration, noted that the state government made sports a major tool in positively engaging the youths and has put in place a robust reward system to motivate sportsmen and women to actualize their potential.
He explained that with the exploits of the likes of the Commissioner for Sports, Daniel Igali, Olympic silver medalist, Blessing Oborududu, and other wrestlers as well as Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens, who successfully retained the Nigeria Women’s Federation Cup title and finished second in the Premier League, it was clear that the state was on the path to greatness in sports.
The state’s helmsman advised the Nigeria Scrabble Federation (NSF) to put in place machinery to sustain the national championship.
In a remark, the Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Daniel Igali represented by the Director of Sports at the State Sports Council, Sir Braveman Wodi, said the continued hosting of the scrabble championship was indicative of the interest and love the Governor and his Deputy have for sports.
He stressed that players discovered from the competition would form the nucleus of Team Bayelsa to the National Youth Games coming up in September this year, describing Bayelsa as the hub of sports in the country.
The NSF President, Engr. Olobatoke Aka, thanked the Governor and the Deputy for sponsoring the national championship for the third consecutive year.
Aka said the Douye Diri National Scrabble Championship served as training ground and preparation for Nigeria’s contingent to the Scrabble World Championship scheduled for Las Vegas in the United States.
Chairman of the Bayelsa State Scrabble Association, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said the competition has in the last three years attracted top players and personalities across the country to the state, stating that the success recorded so far underscored the attention the governor’s administration accorded to sports.
Alabrah, who is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, said the championship has produced a new generation of scrabble players that would take the game by storm in the next few years.
While appreciating Governor Diri for sponsoring the tournament, he urged the corporate world to take a cue to fund and support the growth of scrabble in the country.
Highpoint of the closing ceremonies was the presentation of trophies and cash prizes to winners in the four categories.
Current African champion, Ebonyi State-born Enoch Nwali, dethroned last year’s winner, Nsikak Etim in the Masters category and smiled home with the half a million naira cash prize and a giant trophy.
The 26-year-old undergraduate of Health Education at the University of Lagos won the category with a +705 cumulative spread points after winning 12 out of 15 games.
Clement Ijegbulem clinched the first prize of N200,000 and a trophy in the Opens category while Ojior Osikhena won the Veterans category with N200,000 prize and a trophy.
A SS3 student of the Federal Government College, Odi, Bayelsa State, John Adeleke, who won the students category in the first edition in 2021, claimed the crown again.
The special prize for the overall best female player went to Vera Zini.