Soccer Academy, Rice Production: Two Initiatives That Will Redefine Rivers State

(By Iheanyi Ezinwo)-So much difference have been observed in the physical and conceptual environment of Rivers State in the past three years of Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike administration. However, we consider the promises of a Soccer Academy and large scale production of rice as not only timely and life changing but initiatives that will redefine the people and government of Rivers State.
Speaking at an interactive session with newsmen in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, Governor Wike had hinted that the foundation for a Soccer Academy in the state would be laid May 29, and that the project would be completed in six months. According to him, the Academy will provide an opportunity for kids from age seven to train on how to play professional football while at the same time going to school to acquire western education.
Interestingly, this initiative appears to be the first of its kind by a state government in Nigeria to provide this kind of rare opportunity to catch them young, and in collaboration with the world class Real Madrid football club of Spain. The idea of kids being in school and at the same time training to play professional soccer will not only hold the promise of producing generations of world class football talents from the state, it will also be a major revenue earner for Nigeria in due course.
Besides, opportunities for our people to be trained on the nuts and bolts of refereeing and other aspects of soccer administration will, in the very shortest possible time, turn Rivers State to a great soccer and related business destination, not only in Nigeria but in Africa and the world at large. As increased number of youths become meaningfully engaged, their values and attitudes will change positively, culminating in crime reduction.
Another proposal which was also mentioned by Governor Nyesom Wike during the media chat was that of large scale rice farming to be championed by a Korean company in the Emohua Local Government Area of the state. It is reassuring that the state government is prepared to provide the enabling environment and all necessary support for the project to become a reality. Rivers people cannot wait to see both the state government and the concerned company taking practical steps to translate this dream to reality.
While we are aware that attempts at large scale production of rice in Rivers State have been made in the past, with large expanse of land available for the purpose at Rumuewhor and Rumuodogo axis, extending to other coastal communities, it is important to add that this initiative will boost Gross Domestic Product, create employment opportunities for thousands of idle youths as well as the additional benefit of crime reduction and a more conducive environment for business.
There is no doubt that, by the time Rivers State becomes one of the largest producers of rice in Nigeria, coupled with a new identity as a soccer destination in Africa and the world, the negative narratives of kidnapping and other violent acts would have decreased significantly, paving the way for local and foreign investors to begin to take advantage of the vast business opportunities in the state.
Although we are aware that the season of politics is here with its distractions, we urge Governor Wike, to muster all the political will required to pursue with vigor, these two initiatives. The reason is because; the two projects are people oriented and have the prospect of putting the state on the part of sustainable development.

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