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By Princess Simon (Bureau Chief North-Central, in Minna)

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) have challenged the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) to support government efforts at checking insecurity by initiating sporting events that will promote health rivalry and end hostilities among youths in Niger state.

Organizing such sporting events, football, in particular, will go a long way in promoting peaceful co-existence and healthy rivalry among youths in Minna, the state capital in particular, and also put an end to hooliganism, cultism, gangsterism, and related vices.

Niger State Commandant of the NSCDC, Haruna Bala Zurmi, made the plea when he played host to the State's SWAN executive on a courtesy visit, arguing that sports, particularly football, could serve as a veritable tool to mending broken bridges.

Bala Zurmi, who spoke through the Deputy Commandant, Idris Danjuma, an ex-footballer said football is the only known game that builds bonds of friendship in a heterogeneous enclave like Minna, as team players consider no religious, tribal or regional interests.

The Commandant was specific about the age-long cult rivalry among youths of Maitumbi, Kafentera, and other parts of the Minna metropolis, and therefore wants SWAN to use sports as a tool in helping the state government to end hostilities and build healthy rivalry among the youths.

Sports, particularly football, according to the Commandant, is a game that knows no tribe, religion, language, and region hence organizing friendly football matches or other sporting events could serve as a vehicle to promote healthy rivalry among the disenchanted youths.

The Commandant expressed the preparedness of the NSCDC to support efforts at using sports to build bonds of friendship among the perceived enemies and commended SWAN for the bold steps to reach out to key stakeholders towards ending idleness among youths.

The power of sports as a tool to promote peaceful co-existence cannot be over-emphasized, Zurmi said, as he expressed optimism that gangsterism, hooliganism, and cult rivalries among Minna youths will be a thing of the past if SWAN agrees to take up the challenge of initiating friendly matches between them.

Constant clashes between different cult groups, gangs, hooliganism, and thugs in Minna have been a thing of concern to security operatives and the NSCDC in particular. That is why the Command is throwing its weight behind SWAN in championing the cause of using sports as a tool to build healthy rivalry amongst them.

Earlier, Niger state SWAN Chairman, Mr. George Daniya, told the NSCDC Commandant that the visit is to familiarize with key sports stakeholders and to discover hidden talents that abound among some para-military agencies and other segments of the society for the purpose of promoting peaceful co-existence among the multi-ethnic nationalities in Niger state.

Daniya told his host that it is important for the Command’s young men and women and officers to engage in core sports or other forms of exercises for the physical fitness needed to improve their mental alertness on the job and meet their health needs which SWAN is championing.

The SWAN chairman who expressed appreciation for the warm reception also intimated the Commandant of the forth-coming NUJ inter-Media Games/SWAN Week and anticipated support and cooperation of the security outfit towards actualizing set objectives. NNL.

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