The Sorry State of Sports in Cross River State —By Eugene Upah

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Eugene Upah|14 January 2017 Sports in Cross River State is at its lowest ebb. A state that has once won it all, and that has hosted major local and international sporting activities shouldn’t fall to the level it is now. This is because the chief executive of the state has very little or no interest in sports at all. Very sad! In the United States and Britain for instance, Sports consumes about 10 percent of her total annual budget. This doesn’t even include grants and other sponsorship deals engaged by other multinational firms. As I write, Britain’s 10,000m Marathon runner, Mohammed Farah, has an engagement deal with sporting outfit giants, Adidas, which runs until November 2019 from a recommendation from his host state. This is possible because the central and regional governments have made sports a priority anchored in their day to day activities. I have always said it that Nigerian sportsmen and women can challenge their contemporaries in other western countries but the structures and our government’s ideology towards sports must change. Take for instance, the government of Governor Ben Ayade has not hosted any major competition in Cross River state since its inception in 2015 despite the fact that Cross River is a major stakeholder in Nigerian sports. More worrisome is the fact that the state has the best Swimming, Chess, Judo, Boxing and Weightlifting programs in Nigeria. The state has the 3rd best swimming team in Africa after South Africa and Algeria. The reluctance of the Governor Ben Ayade-led administration to pay attention to the sports sector is dwindling sports in the state and making the state loose its position among its peers in Nigeria. A state that has the best junior Athletics team and the 2nd best elite Athletics team after Delta shouldn’t be swept away like the present government has made it become. This shouldn’t be of a state that has once convened sportsmen and women from other nations via competitions like the famous Obudu Mountain Race. Athletes from Cross River state are representing other countries, and experts have estimated and known that the state can dominate sports in Africa if given proper attention. My prayer is for Governor Ben Ayade to sustain the gains of the previous administrations by implementing programs which will revitalize sports and make Cross River a haven for sporting activities in Nigeria. Eugene Upah
Is a Social Commentator