Ministries agree on Akanu Ibiam Championship’s kick-off date
The Ministries of Science and Technology and Youths and Sports have agreed on a partnership for the oft-postponed Akanu Ibiam Football Championship. The new date for the take off is November 10, with both ministers assuring Nigerians of no further postponement.
Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu of Science and Technology and his sports counterpart, Solomon Dalung gave the assurance at a joint press conference in Abuja, where they released a programme for the championship.
According to the partnership, while the Ministry of Youths and Sports is responsible for the actual organisation of the games, which is to take place in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, the Ministry of Science and Technology will, through its agencies, provide support in the form of Nigerian made footballs, boots, jerseys and all materials needed in the games.
Minister of Sports, Dalung said the game will showcase and promote the local content initiative of the government by ensuring all materials used are made in Nigeria. “We’ll make a policy to domesticate all these products in our competitions,” Dalong said.
He added that the purpose of the games is to unite the country and engender peace and stability, adding that the name of Dr. Akanu Ibiam was chosen to promote the game because, according to him, he was an icon of integrity.
He added that the ministry would ensure that only players within the U-18 age bracket participate in the championship.
Dalung also noted that the championship will celebrate the selflessness that Akanu Ibiam stood for, adding that the late nationalist and global figure, if alive, would not have supported the balkanisation of Nigeria.
The minister called on states’ governments to invest more in sports in order to promote peace, noting that donating weapons to the Police alone would not end crime.
Also speaking on the championship, Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Onu said the games would revisit the values that made Nigeria great by celebrating selfless nationalists, who sacrificed for the country.
Noting that the present government was working to change the narrative so the country could defeat poverty by halting exportation of jobs, Dr. Onu lamented that Nigeria still import sports materials even when it manufactures footballs acknowledged to be one of the best in the world.
Explaining the format of the competition, National Coordinator of the championship, Dr. Ifedi Okwenna said it would involve youths from the six geo-political zones of the country. He added that 24 teams have already registered to participate in the games.
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