Imo state from it’s inception in 1976 must have experienced an enviable record of a clean, fast, developing, peaceful and sports loving and developing centre in Nigeria and has been a reference point to other state to emulate.
The state has had in these past years,the enviable track record of self sufficiency and self activities and self dependency in several aspects of socio economic life.
She is proud to note that this part of the country came out of the ruins and debris of the 30 months fratricidal civil war to be the first to give her citizens and airport, courtesy of the peoples zeal and determination at self sustenance and survival.
Yes, today Imo International Cargo Airport has come to stay and in the same state had it’s ambition and recognition of the great importance and role of education in the socio economic well-being of her citizens and in order to draw the attention of the federal authorities to the need of a federal tertiary institution, through same self help and contributions, began a multi campus university fashioned after the famous Nebraska University in USA with initial campuses at Etiti, Aba and Awo-Omamma. That institution at a point was rated highest in the areas of law, education and humanities before the hand of Essau set in, thus making it a citadel of certificate racketeering for aspiring political leaders and governors.
Though, the pursuance of self struggle, she has made agriculture using Songhai farm method, developed by an Imo indigenous catholic cleric in far away Togoland, an art. Same goes for the population in oil palm production through the home established Adapalm, an estate established 40 years ago by legendary Sam Mbakwe to make the state self sufficiency in productivity.
However, in her notable application of self help and self actualization, one thing that popularized and elevated Imo state to limelight and national prominence as well as international recognition was these recently neglected, abandoned areas of sports and sporting activities, which metamorphosed into the erection of the popular Dan Anyiam Stadium Complex, and the Grasshopper International Hand Ball Stadium, all in Owerri but named after the popular grasshopper Handball team that won golden laurels continuously for years. Today the place is dead and buried, courtesy of Rescue Mission Government.
Sports and sporting activities created several jobs for hundreds of neglected and forgotten young school graduates and even handicapped or displaced citizens. Here kudos must be given to the sports loving first military Governor of Imo state, Real Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, who saw the vision of sports as a veritable instrument for job creation and employment of the youth. We also doff our hats for the first civilian Governor of the state, the most indefatigable and indomitable patriot of our time, Dee Sam Mbakwe, who had the will power of establishing a stadium named after an Nkwerre born first generation footballer,Dan Anyiam as well as the Grasshopper Stadium to propel our youths into sports. One does not forget the Spartans football club that subsequently grew to be Iwuanyanwu Nationale and later the crack Heartland Football team, which witnessed it’s first relegation during the unfortunate Rescue Mission Administration of Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
Recently, this column discussed the issue of job creation and unemployment in the state. We argued that apart from agriculture and education, nothing else offers the opportunity for job, wealth, health, recreation and popularity to individuals seeking a breakthrough or jinx breaking in life than sports and sporting activities. States like Edo, Rivers and Lagos can attest to this fact. Surely, sports and sporting activities create numerous jobs and wealth, and have succeeded in keeping away our youths from various forms of crimes. Now that we are expecting a new government in power, it is time to revisit sports and sporting activities, beginning with the well known school sports, tertiary institution games and inter village or inter house games.
There is no gain saying the fact that sports and it’s activities had offered jobs, wealth and popularity to Imo state in the past and can do it again in future.
The sporting world has jobs enough for coriters, coaches, health care givers and invalids. There are openings in the areas of handball, football (male and female), wrestling, weight-lifting, baseball, basket ball, takwando, boxing, volley ball, golf horse race cricket, hockey swimming, open races, athletics, lawn tennis, table tennis, chess cycling and others that cannot be catalogued there.
We appeal to all authorities in Imo state, town unions, local governments, schools, politicians, religious bodies to vigorously revisit, re-invigorate, re-invest in sports and sporting activities as tools for employment, job creation, wealth creation, expression of prowess, talent and popularity.
Better still, political gladiators use most of the money they use to buy votes and share to voters at the polling booths to invest in sports and talent hunt activities. We recall always that children and youths who gain from such economic diversification will remain useful, resourceful and grateful to their benefactors for life, and form part of their well desired but elusive security at old age.