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Page 49 Why Gov Bello met Mikel Obi in London-NGSG Why would a governor, considering many problems facing his people, go to watch a football…

Page 49

Why Gov Bello met Mikel Obi in London-NGSG

Why would a governor, considering many problems facing his people, go to

watch a football match in London? This question sums up the queries of

concerned Nigerians after it was announced that Governor Abubakar Sani

Bello of Niger State would visit Stamford Bridge to watch the match between

Chelsea and Arsenal on Saturday.

Many people have received individual responses from government clearing up

their misunderstanding of the visit. However, the matter merits another

response for the consumption of the general public.

Why Mikel Obi?

John Mikel Obi, through his agents and company (JOMIKEL), approached Niger

State government to partner with it towards sports development in the

state. Mikel Obi also initiated the moves to locate a football academy in

the state. And at this time, when the state government focuses on improving

the economy of the state by encouraging and facilitating private investment

and participation, it would be foolish to turn back an investor who is

willing to invest his own money in our state.

This was clearly spelt out in the statement that was released before the

event:

“Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State will be a guest at Stamford

Bridge in London, home to the Chelsea football club, on Saturday, on the

invitation of John Mikel Obi, a Chelsea player who is planning to

collaborate with the state government towards sports development –

including starting a football academy in Minna. The governor will watch

the home game between Chelsea and Arsenal scheduled to start at 12.45pm.

In the evening after the game, Governor Bello will have dinner with Mikel

Obi to further the discussion on sports development in Niger State – a

conversation which was initiated by Mikel’s agents in Minna and Abuja.”

Why is Mikel investing in Niger and not Mikel’s own Plateau State?

Why did the chicken cross the road? Why do many accomplished businessmen

choose other cities or other nations to invest instead of their own

hometowns? The answer to these questions is simple: To maximize their

utility. Which means these are economic questions best answered by the

investor who must do all he can to maximize returns on investment –

including choosing a location that would minimize risks.

But why visit London to have a meeting with Mikel?

The governor was in Europe a week before that match. As stated above,

Mikel’s agents have been having discussions with the state government.

Governor Bello’s visit to Stamford Bridge was part of that conversation.

Actually, the governor was going to Europe and later to America to

undertake many assignments including being part of the president’s team and

also as a co-chair of a panel to discuss sustainable development during

70th Session of the UN General Assembly. He was also in the UK to meet

other international development partners (IDPs). Therefore, it was resolved

by all parties that the governor would tee up a meeting with Mikel while in

the UK. It happened that there was a match and Mikel invited the governor

as a guest of honour.

Therefore, many have, rightly, commended Mikel for initiating the project

and many also appreciate the Niger State government for encouraging him and

also attracting investment to the state.

Is this our priority?

Yes. Niger State government has prioritized four areas upon which to focus

in the next four years: health, education, agriculture and empowerment.

The last on the list, is what concerns us now. Youth and women make up

about two-third of Nigeria’s population. Therefore, Niger State government

wants to focus its attention on this demography. Sports development,

properly organized, empowers the youth and cockles economic activities in

the state.

However, the state is not going to focus only on football. Our

basketball team used to be very good. The Flickers, our hockey team, has

just won a tournament in Kaduna. Therefore, the government will focus on

these and many other areas. Further, to bring back the winning days of our

team, the government has just reconstituted the board of Niger Tornadoes.

How many were in the governor’s encourage?

One. The governor travelled alone. Although the chief of staff travelled later to join him. The ADC will also join him later. So, including the

governor himself, only three government officials travelled. Governor

Bello doesn’t waste money on a large entourage.

Does he travel much?

No. Governor Bello has travelled only twice outside the country since he became governor. This trip, and once to Singapore with Governor Rochas

Okorocha to parley with development partners. Again, on that trip,

Governor Bello travelled with his ADC only.

___________

I. Dooba, Ph.D.

Chief Press Secretary,

Niger State Government

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