Bolaji AbdullahiThe Honourable Minister of Sports and Chairman, National Sports Commission and Supervising Minister, Ministry of Youth Development, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, has called on cultural associations, performing artists and Nigerians in the movie industry to show keen interest in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Cultural Festivals, saying it required concerted efforts from relevant stakeholders to build a platform to assist the youths actualize their life ambitions.

Mallam Abdullahi made this call in Abuja on Monday, February 3, at the opening ceremony of the 2013 edition of the Annual NYSC Sports and Cultural Festivals Grand Finale, which had as theme, “Promoting Sports and Culture for Enduring Peace, Unity and National Development.”

Represented by the Director of Finance and Accounts in the Ministry of Youth Development, Mr. H. W. Taya, the minister, who maintained that rekindling cultural revival with the intention of enabling the youths to appreciate our cultural heritage was a worthwhile effort, further stressed that if people embrace our indigenous cultures and its values, it will certainly reduce the craze for foreign cultural values.

His words: “One of the viable and positive ways to engage our active population (the youth population) is to channel their innermost energy to substantive ventures by promoting their participation in sports and cultural activities like this. It is in realization of this that the Transformation Agenda of Mr. President places high premium on sports promotion and development and these have manifested in the various international laurels being won by the country.

“What we are witnessing today is part of the efforts of the Federal Government to harvest the talents and potentials inherent in our youths. Therefore, as corps members who are privileged to have undergone tertiary education and acquired other forms of skills which have positioned you to contribute positively to the accelerated growth and the management of our beloved nation, you should be at the vanguard of promoting sports and culture for enduring peace, unity and national development in line with the theme of the grand finale.”

While stating that it was an incontrovertible fact that everywhere in the world today, sports and culture remain the most potent tools for promoting unity, peace and cross-cultural integration with a greater look among the nations of the world, Abdullahi expressed confidence that the experience the competition will offer will not be an exception, saying this was one of the ways by which we can discover and prepare a future generation of players and other sports men and women who could do the nation proud.

Bozimo 1Also speaking, the Chairman, NYSC National Governing Board, Chief Gordon Bozimo said on its part, the Governing Board will continue to come up with policy interventions that will make the scheme deliver on its mandate with greater efficiency and effectiveness.

According to him, the National Youth Service Scheme, since inception, had been playing a pivotal role in the country’s quest for national unity, development and national integration, saying, “The NYSC has made great impact into virtually all aspects of our national life, namely, education, health, agriculture, infrastructure and socio-political development to mention just but a few. In this regard, NYSC Annual Sports and Cultural Festivals are ready tools with immense potentials that can be harnessed to further consolidate on the gains and impact so far made by the scheme.”

“Apart from being a pedestal for entertainment, the festival also serves as a veritable platform for the promotion of discipline, friendship across the borders, comradeship and cultural education among corps members. These are some vital ingredients that can assist our dear country bring new grounds in it much avowed national transformation,” he added, urging participants to put in their best in the competition and see all activities in the context of a family as NYSC was ‘one big family.’NYSC

Earlier in his welcome address, which is his first official assignment on assumption of office four months  ago, the NYSC Director-General, Brigadier-General Johnson Bamidele Olawumi, stressed that the competition is geared towards, “Showcasing talents among corps members as part of efforts at fostering national unity, integration and mutual understanding and also assist them imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship and healthy competition that will promote lasting friendship which will outlive the service year.”

The Grand Finale of the 2013 Annual NYSC Sports and Cultural Festivals has participating contingent drawn from 25 states (Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Delta,  Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu,  Gombe,  Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Niger, Osun, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Zamfara)  and the FCT, competing in football, volleyball, drama, dance and comedy.

NYSC 3Among dignitaries present at the occasion was the Executive Secretary of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma.

Caleb Nor & Njideka Dimgba

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