President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday called on Nigerians to join hands with the government in the socio-political development of the country as Nigeria marks 50 years of nationhood. Speaking shortly after teeing off at the 50th anniversary golf tournament organised by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) Golf Course Club, Abuja, President Jonathan said despite the bumpy nature of the countryâ€™s history a lot has been achieved by both past and present Nigerian leaders that calls for celebration.
â€œWhen people say we have a checkered history, I do not agree with them because in the last 50 years we have achieved a lot that we can really celebrate. We fought a 30-month civil war and we were able to rise up to rebuild this country despite our heterogeneous nature. This calls for celebration,â€ he said. Jonathan said â€œthere are countries that are almost mono-lingual and mono-cultural that are still fighting civil war till today, but in our own case we were able to overcome that problem within 30 months and I think this is worth celebrating,â€ he said.
To mark the 50th anniversary, President Jonathan directed Bala Mohammed, minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to grant the club certificate of occupancy (C of O) without further delay to enable it develop the facilities at the club to world class level. He pointed out that since independence Nigeria as a country has no left the world in doubt on its great potentials in sports development and performance during globally organised tournament and noted that across all the cadres: junior, middle and adult competitions, the country has continued to excel. While lamenting the poor performance of the nationâ€™s senior football team at the just concluded FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the president, however, maintained that there was still great potentials in the sports sector in the country.
He expressed delight that the IBB Golf Club was planning to establish a Golf Academy to train young Nigerians with golf potentials as a way of catching them young, and pledged Federal Governmentâ€™s readiness to collaborate with the management of the club to achieve the objective of the proposed academy. President Jonathan described as a good omen the recent decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to list the game of golf as one of the sports in the tournament and therefore urged the IBB Golf Club to produce talents that can win gold medals for the country at the global meet.
Jonathan, who was awarded Handicap 7 category at the point of tee off, stated that besides the numerous feats Nigeria has recorded in the area of sports development, the country has every reason to celebrate the country at 50.
Earlier in his welcome address, Domkat Bali, chairman, governing board of the IBB Golf Course, thanked President Jonathan for the effort of his administration in developing infrastructure in the country and expressed their willingness to work with the government to transform the nation.
While expressing gratitude to God for the show of interest of President Jonathan in contesting the 2011 presidential election, Bali pledged the support of Nigerian golfers to Jonathanâ€™s political ambition.