Some golf enthusiasts on Sunday harped on the game of golf as a veritable tool for unity, tourism, trade and investment.
A cross section of golf enthusiasts made the remarks on the sidelines of the 2023 IBB Independence Golf and Tennis Tournament in Abuja.
The tournament which began on Sept. 15 at IBB International Golf and Country Club, Abuja ended on Sunday.
Olabanjo Olaleye, the Captain, IBB International Golf and Country Club said the tournament aimed at using golf as a rallying platform for the unity, security and peaceful co-existence of all Nigerians.
“We are very happy to be Nigerians and our 63rd Independence Anniversary is worth celebrating.
“We are together, one country with one vision and one purpose. We will continue to be united as Nigerians, this indeed is the significance of this event,“he said.
Obaleye said one of the objectives of the tournament was also to foster trade relationship and camaraderie among other African countries.
He said that part of the event’s programme was a business-to-business (B2B) dinner with all the four participating countries from Cameroon, Ghana and Uganda, including hosts Nigeria on Saturday.
“We also had representatives from the Export Promotion Council, Nigeria Export Import Bank (NEXIM) as well as The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA).
“We were able to explore, showcase and share our various business perspective as well as opportunities which abound in our countries.
“We discovered that as Africans if we can promote trade amongst ourselves, we will become a very strong continent and will compete favourably with the rest of the world.
“We are using the game of golf to encourage and achieve all these as well as drive this message both home and abroad,” he said.
Mr Ibrahim Babayo, Vice-Captain of the club, said the event had gone beyond the golf tournament itself, adding that it was also about celebrating Nigeria, her unity and successes.
Babayo said that in spite all the challenges in Nigeria, there were also some achievements made by the country which were worth celebrating.
He said that golf was becoming a big foreign policy tool for countries, saying that it was also not only for the elites.
Babayo who is also the Chairman, Organising Committee of the tournament, said that the club was also trying to partner with the FCT and Nigeria as a whole to make the country a golfing destination.
“We have a world class golf course here that can compete with other course anywhere in the world.
“If you come to the IBB Course and you look at our fairways and greens. I mean anywhere in the world we can raise our heads high and say yes we are there.
“We are trying to make the International community know that such facilities exist in Nigeria.
“So, they can always come to enjoy a round of golf and continue to do their businesses peacefully in Nigeria,” he said.
Simbi Wabote, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) said promoting the game of golf was another way of encouraging tourism in the country.
“Local content development is not just about the oil and gas sector. It is in tourism, manufacturing and everything we do.
“From my own perspective, promoting golfing in the country is another way of encouraging tourism. Alot of golfers leave Nigeria to go and play golf outside the shores of the country.
“But what we are trying to do here is to tell people that we have golf courses and rather than spend the dollars outside this country such money should be spent here.
“Play on Nigerian courses, believe in Nigeria, work for Nigeria and expect greatness from Nigeria,” he said.
Lothin Elessa, the President of Cameroon Golf Federation said Nigeria and Cameroon were very close brothers who share a long history of friendship together.
Elessa said that through the game of golf they have been able to foster a strong bond with not only Nigeria but other African countries.
“First and foremost, I want to wish Nigeria a very happy Independence day celebration.
“We came here to play golf but it is not just only about the game. Golf is an instrument for diplomacy, trade, investment and so on.
“It is also a huge opportunity for our delegation to foster relationships with not just our brothers in Nigeria, but also Ghana, Cameroon and Uganda.
“Having over four countries coming together for a tournament like this is very important and will further strengthen the bond within our continent,” he said.
Other guests present during the ceremonial tee-off were, Sen. John Owan-Enoh, the Minister of Sports Development, Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Cui Jianchun and Korean Ambassador to Nigeria, KIM Young Chae, amongst others.