by Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam, AIPS Young Reporter, Nigeria
PORT HARCOURT, May 29, 2018 – The Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria, His Excellency Nyesom Wike has expressed his willingness to host an AIPS Africa congress in the state’s capital, Port Harcourt.
Governor Wike made this known on Monday when the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) president Gianni Merlo, alongside AIPS Africa president Mitchell Obi, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) president Honour Sirawoo and other delegates, paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House in Port Harcourt.
Appreciation – Merlo appreciated the governor for inviting him to witness the foundation laying of the Real Madrid Academy in Port Harcourt and for the great hospitality on his first ever visit to Nigeria.
He said: “And thank you for sending ten of our colleagues (from Nigeria) to the World Cup (in Russia). It’s also important for their career.”
“I think that this is a special moment for us knowing what this state is doing for sports. It was very interesting to see the foundation laying of the Real Madrid Academy which is a really important social tool for the future, and on this we agree completely with the policy of Nyesom because he is showing that he is looking to the future exactly as we (AIPS) are.”
In his response, the governor was also very thankful to Merlo for being his special guest throughout the day, from the press conference to the foundation laying and then the international friendly match between Nigeria and DR Congo.
“You have really shown support and brotherhood,” said Wike, who was given the Power of Sports award at the 81st AIPS Congress in Brussels early this month.
“The award you gave to us has inspired and motivated us to work more. We will not relent. I must tell you, we are very serious about the Real Madrid Academy.”
AIPS Africa congress heading to Port Harcourt – To further establish the relationship between AIPS and the Rivers State Government, the AIPS President proposed the possibility of Port Harcourt hosting not just the AIPS Africa congress but also the AIPS Executive Committee.
He said: “I hope that in the near future we will have the possibility to bring our Executive Committee here to see for themselves what you are doing, and you can also host a congress of Africa because Africa is growing very much. We are very proud of what all the national associations of sports journalists in Africa are doing for the new generation.”
Governor Wike accepted the proposal: “Let me say that the state will be willing. Not just willing, we will wholeheartedly accept to host your (AIPS Africa) congress.”
It is not certain yet when the congress or executive committee meeting in Port Harcourt will be held. Last year’s elective congress, which re-elected Mitchell Obi as AIPS Africa President, was held in Nairobi, Kenya in December.