Without any iota of doubt, sports has become a compelling tool for bringing together people from different political, socio-cultural and religious backgrounds to embrace one another for the much needed peace, tolerance, and understanding.
This was replicated recently in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, where Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust and other titles, brought together Nigerians from different backgrounds to compete in a convivial atmosphere at the 2021 Daily Trust Golf Tournament which was held on December 4, 2021 at the breath-taking Ibom Icon Golf Club.
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At the end of the one day amateur golf tournament, which attracted over 200 players with different handicaps in the Men and Ladies categories, there was an overflow of praises as the participants poured encomiums on sponsors of the tournament.
Such expressions of gratitude didn’t come as a surprise in view of the desperate search for peace and unity in Nigeria that is gripped by ravaging insecurity. In recent years, the country has been hit with all forms of insecurity culminating into armed robbery, kidnapping, banditry and a host of others. Interestingly, the power of sports has been identified as a means to end most of these social vices.
While speaking during the awards presentations, the Chairman of Media Trust Limited, Malam Kabiru Yusuf, said the golf tournament was not just a form of recreation but an avenue for networking among Nigerians as sports is a potent tool that can be used to foster unity.
Yusuf stated that if people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds could gather together peacefully and play golf, then there was no need for fighting and tension in the country.
Acknowledging the presence of golfers like former Kogi State governor, Capt. Idris Wada (rtd), Ibom Golf Club captain, Rt Hon. Usenobong Akpabio among others from across the country at the tournament, the Chairman who featured in the one day event revealed that Daily Trust had hosted the tournament in Kano, Lagos and Abuja.
Speaking on behalf of the Media Trust Limited Chairman, General Manager, Business and Strategy, Malam Ahmed Shekarau, advocated the extension of the same unity seen during the tournament among participants to the larger society as a whole, saying religious and ethnic intolerance should be discarded for a peaceful co-existence.
He said Daily Trust was using the tournament to knit a sense of unity and collectivity as well as register its presence in the southern part of the country.
“We know that golf is one of the most veritable platforms for networking. It has become a source of unity for a lot of our citizens because you see the kind of people that converge in this place, people from Jigawa State coming down to play here, and eventually emerging a winner.
“We have people in Abuja here. Golf is a platform through which a lot of Nigerians can come together and then we can begin to ask ourselves, what exactly is the problem with us? If we can come together and play golf, why not extend the same sense of unity to other platforms so that some of these crises that we are having such as ethnic crisis, religious crisis here and there could be discarded?
“Daily Trust has already established itself as a very strong brand in Nigeria largely known within the North. So we feel it is high time we begin to move south so that the sense of unity that we are able to foster in some other golf platforms, we come down to Uyo here, and then discharge that kind of responsibility,” he stated.
Also speaking, former Kogi State governor, Capt. Idris Wada (rtd), who won in the veteran category said the experience was a unique one for him. He therefore applauded Daily Trust for helping the growth of golf in the country, and the Akwa Ibom State government for keeping the golf course running.
“I want to encourage all of you to play. Ibom Golf Course is the best we have in the country and I commend the management that is looking after this golf course. For a Nigerian government to have a golf course of this quality after 20 years is highly commendable. So, I commend the management, the Governor and the government for supporting this club to be a pride of the nation,” he said.
He further said golf was used by foreign countries to kick-start their economies to ease the effect of the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When there was a total lockdown, golf was one of the games UK and US used to bring people back. You know there is a lot of space, freedom without people coming close to each other. Golf revived hotel industry, transportation, restaurant and with very good investments,” he noted.
While commending Daily Trust for bringing the tournament to Ibom Golf Course, Captain of Ibom Golf Club, Rt Hon. Usenobong Akpabio said the tournament was very challenging and entertaining because it was not easy to play 18 holes. He also encouraged other media houses to emulate the exemplary support of Daily Trust the game of golf.
He also said with Ibom Golf Club, the state has become tourists’ hub as Nigerians across the length and breadth of the country regularly converge on Akwa Ibom State, thereby giving a big boost to the economy of the state.
“Anyone who travels, the first place the person looks for is a hotel and if he loves golf, the next thing is to look for a course. There is a lot golf has done in terms of tourism. When you talk about tourism potential in Akwa Ibom state, golf brings in a lot of people here and you know what that means,” he said.
It will be recalled that amateur golfers, Unyime Okon and Helen Ayo emerged winners in the male and female categories respectively after 114 players comprising 109 male and five female golfers played on the lush green 18-hole course in the 2021 Daily Trust Golf Tournament.
The two winners qualified for an all-expenses paid golf weekend in Kigali, a 3-night stay in 5-star Marriot Kigali hotel, 2 rounds of golf at the Premier 18-hole Kigali Golf Club and business round-trip on Abuja Kigali ticket on Rwanda Air.