Bayelsa Govt. Assures Athletes Of Support, Plans To Clear Outstanding Bonuses
By Hananeel Jackson
The Bayelsa State Government has assured its athletes of sustainable support to enable them do the state proud at the postponed National Sports Festival and other competitions.
Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo gave the assurance on Thursday at a meeting with officials of the state ministry of sports at his office in Government House, Yenagoa.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo, in a press release by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Doubara Atasi, vowed that the present administration would do everything within its reach to promote sports and youth development in the state.
He noted that restoring the state sports ministry to its glorious days would not be too difficult, as the administration is poised to tap from the wealth of experience of veterans in the industry, including Governor Douye Diri who had served as former sports Commissioner.
The Deputy Governor who expressed appreciation to the state athletes for demonstrating true commitment and patriotism to the state, enjoined other Bayelsans particularly the political class to emulate them.
His words, “First of all, I want to thank you for your patriotism, commitment, determination and the Ijaw spirit that is firing in you because the Ijawman is not a man whose conscience is bought.
“The true Ijaw man is prepared to be hungry than going to steal or beg. That is why I have always said the Ijaw man is one of the proudest persons in the world. And that is what you have demonstrated.
“I want to assure you that this Government led by Senator Douye Diri will reciprocate your determination, commitment and patriotism to our state.
“Because if every person shows this kind of patriotism in their little offices and corners including our politicians in Abuja, Port Harcourt and wherever they are, Bayelsa will not be what it is.
“I want to also assure you that anytime the National Sports Festival will take place, by God’s grace, I will be there at the opening ceremony as the person supervising the sports ministry.
“I will match round with you to set example for others as a way of encouraging you. I will carry the banner alongside the commissioner for sports or the permanent secretary as the case may be, to match in front of you.”
Reacting to the demands of the athletes, Senator Ewhrudjakpo assured that government would put in place a machinery to employ them and clear their outstanding bonuses.
To this end, he directed the Permanent Secretary and Director of Sports, Ministry of Sports and Youth Development to work out the cost implications for the employment of the athletes as well as payment of their bonuses.
He said, ” Subject to the Governor’s approval, the permanent secretary and director of sports should work out the total cost of employing these our athletes.You should also work out the payment of the outstanding bonuses in two, three and four times instalments.
“I want the proposal to get to me latest Wednesday next week so that we can present it to the Governor. We want to see what we can do so that at least ‘something’ will be coming your way every month to clear the backlog.”
Earlier in their separate remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Mr Tukuru Patimidi and Director of Sports, Ministry of Sports, Sir Braveman Wodi, commended the Deputy Governor for exhibiting demonstrable commitment to tackling challenges facing sports in the state.
They however, appealed to the state government to take quick measures to stem the tide of losing its best athletes to other states.
The measures, according to them, include clearing the backlog of bonuses owed athletes as well as employing those who have consistently made the state proud in both national and international sport competitions.
In his contribution, one of the athletes, Mr Tuburu Tamarakuro, called on the state Governor, Senator Douye Diri to demonstrate his love for sports by motivating sportsmen and women.
He expressed optimism that, if the pressing issues affecting the athletes were tackled headlong, Bayelsa would come up tops at the National Sports Festival billed for Edo State.