We have a new governor in Ogun State – Prince Dapo Abiodun.
Several weeks ago, I called him on telephone to congratulate him for a well fought electoral battle and for his eventual success.
As he resumes work this week this is to publicly wish him a very successful tenure.
From the vibrations I feel around the State expectations are very high. His work is also cut out for him considering where he has to take off from following the crucible of fire he passed through that have left ashes of bitterness and division amongst several of the citizens of the State. How quickly he settles down to true governance and the steps he takes within the first few months that will impact the lives of the suffering masses in the State would help to heal wounds.
The only warning I have for him is the army of political praise singers that will not stop until they do to him what they did to his predecessors – turning them into gods and despots.
Everyone knows that I created some kind of history a few months ago when I blazed a new trail in Nigerian politics. It was the first time an authentic ambassador of sports would be attempting to get into government and become governor of a State in Nigeria.
It was a big gamble.
At a popular annual national forum (The Platform) some two years ago I spoke about how those leading us, with access to power in the country, can use the power of sports to actually change the country. I was very serious in my belief and conviction, my experiences having armed me with the tools to stand up and join former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, former American President, Bill Clinton, and former South African President, Nelson Mandela, in declaring that ‘Sport has the power to change the world’.
In attempting to go into politics, win or lose, my primary intention was to demonstrate the power of sports as a political vehicle to contribute to championing an unprecedented social, economic, political and infrastructural development in any State; to set a unique example for the rest of the country (and the African continent); and to create an environment that will attract global visitors that shall provide the financial oxygen for the transformation of Ogun State.
My belief was that for fast and a new way to development of a State in this part of the world, Sports, the arts, education, the environment, health, youths, tourism and the media in combination can be the main drivers. Together they can engender rapid development of a country and a people.
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The sector is so subtle, so innocuous, so simple, so cost effective, and yet so effective that unless you are initiated into understanding, it will seem almost too good to be true.
My worry has always been how Nigerians, with all their reputation as smart people, have not recognised and exploited the economic potential in the leisure and entertainment industry of which sport is a major component, and deployed its power to tackle some of the country’s most intractable problems? It beats me.
Let me state categorically that there is no greater weapon than this industry to tackle most of the seemingly intractable problems Nigeria is facing at this point in our history, a period fueled by an army of illiterate, poorly educated, restless, idle and yet energetic youths.
Sport, cleverly and strategically deployed, can help unify the young people of Nigeria, provide innumerable exciting job opportunities for them in a global industry for which they have great passion, help with their health and wellbeing issues, accelerate development of basic infrastructure, and a whole list of other benefits that would appear ambitious but are automatically and easily achievable.
I kept and published a diary in order to document every aspect of my journey down that route for the sake of posterity. Many young people should look forward to having a copy of the book that shall soon be birthed from that experience.
It is also no longer news how my experiment ‘failed’.
It did not quite ignite the flames I thought it would even though the genuineness of my effort has become a foundation upon which a future, firmer political structure can, and probably will still, be built.
In Ogun State, from the vibrations I feel around the State, there is great excitement at the prospect of a new kind of government in the State, one that got there after passing through the crucible of fire. No one passes through such fire without coming out either badly burnt or well refined by it. People are praying this one is a refinement, to take them far away from the debris of the last election, away from the resultant hatred and division strewn all over the State, into a new dawn under a new kind of leadership.
I am one of such persons hoping that things would be done differently, and priorities shall address the simple, clear, uncomplicated and inexpensive needs of the people of the State.
If I were the governor everyone knows what I would have used the power of sports to achieve in the next 4 years.
My plan will be simple, practical, clear and easily understood by the people whose active participation will be the active ingredient that will make the whole enterprise work and succeed.
Our common vision is the emergence of a State that will be the best and safest place in Nigeria to live and work. Ogun State can be that State, a model created to birth a new environment that will house a new Black civilization in the world, restoring the dignity, pride, and culture of the Black person on earth in response to the global crisis of nationalism that has engulfed the world.
I urge the governor to take a little time to study what Sport, and that whole additional industry in leisure, the arts, culture, tourism, etc, can do to transform Ogun State into the place of his own dreams too. It can be done.
Once again I congratulate him and wish him well.