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African football legends file up for Ambode

African football legends honour Ambode

George Weah, Liberian President and former World Footballer award winner is among African football legends that will storm the Agege Stadium in Lagos to feature in a testimonial match organized in honour of outgoing Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

Ambode will leave office on May 29 after losing his bid to get the nomination of All Progressives Congress (APC) to run for a second term.

The match scheduled for Saturday, would also feature Drogba, Eto’O, Toure, Diomansy Kamara, Peterside Idah, Geremi Njitap, and Michael Essien.

According to the Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr. Kweku Tandoh, the event tagged ‘Match for Ambode’, is being organised to honour Governor Ambode for his laudable contribution to sports development in Lagos since he assumed office in 2015.

Others include Peter Rufai, Finidi George, Mutiu Adepoju, Samson Siasia, Augustine Eguavoen, Joseph Yobo, Ike Shorunmu, Kanu Nwankwo, Austin Jay- Jay Okocha, Daniel Amokachi, Emmanuel Amunike, Phillip Shuaibu (Deputy Governor, Edo State), Taribo West.

Lagos state government, in a tweet announced the event and participating ex-footballers.

Ambode received some of the top legends at the Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja, on Friday, urging countries on the continent to look inward and explore the possibility of using sports to grow their economies, saying sports remain a veritable tool to foster growth and development.

He said the sense of brotherhood in sports must be played up for the benefits of the continent in terms of scaling up the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of African countries.

Recalling an initiative of his administration known as Project T.H.E.S.E which stands for Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Arts and Sports for Excellence, Governor Ambode said right from inception, machineries were set rolling to use sports to grow economy and tourism in Lagos.

“We have always used sports to build bridges and there is this sense of brotherhood anytime that you switch on your television and there is an African playing on any line-up be it Liverpool, be it Tottenham, that feeling is always there and that brotherhood is something that we can use to grow the economies of Africa nations.

“I had this dream when I came in as Governor that I could use sports, tourism, entertainment and arts with some sense of hospitality to promote excellence. So, I had something called Project T.H.E.S.E and my dream was to catalyze everything around sports and use it to build tourism and also grow the GDP of Lagos.

“So, that was the dream and why we promoted as many sporting activities as possible so that we could create a platform for tourism which made many people to travel here and just like you have come now, you will lodge in our hotels and the hotels at the end of the day would pay taxes and then we use it to do the infrastructure that we are doing.”

He said though four years may not be enough to do everything but that he was grateful to God for the opportunity to serve the people, just as he expressed optimism that the next administration would take it up, improve on it and ensure that the dream and vision for sports development never dies.

“I am very honoured that you are all here in Lagos to celebrate with me as I finish my tenure in Lagos State. This match is not only for me but for the good of humanity. We are not promoting it because we want to make money out of it but we are actually showcasing the fact that there is still something to be done about sports development in Africa and then particularly in Nigeria.

“We have lost a lot of resources and economic growth because people can’t match sports with the economy and that is the mis-match that we are having here. I mean, the question is why do I have to travel to Madrid to go and watch La Liga meanwhile I will pay Airline, pay for hotel and grow the economy of Spain?

“That is what Africa has to find out and then maybe as I leave office, it might just be my next venture to do something around sports and use my intellect to find a way to match sports with our economy and all of you here are all Ambassadors in your own rights and that is the only way we can continue to pull resources together because we must understand that the future of Nigeria is actually in the service industry – in sports, in creative arts, in things that are innovative whereby people can use their talents to earn income and I pray that one day we would have sporting companies that would be on the Stock Exchange,” Governor Ambode said.

Diouf who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, thanked Ambode for the opportunity for him and others to participate in the event .

Aliou Goloko, a French sports journalist, said Ambode deserved to be commended and appreciated for making Lagos a safe place, adding that the soccer legends were also drawing inspiration from the purposeful leadership of the Governor.

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