President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday said dialogue, peace and reconciliation were veritable strategies for the achievement of sustainable and lasting development.
Speaking during the 13th edition of the West African University Games in Ilorin on Saturday, Jonathan who was represented by the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi, said the Federal Government would improve on security because violence was inimical to development.
“Humanity advances if we put behind all our differences and work together to embrace dialogue, peace and reconciliation. Violence in any form is decried in our society and all its traces must be uprooted from our community,” Jonathan said.
He described sports as a veritable tool for foreign policy and a good vehicle for the promotion of national and international integration, cooperation, understanding and peaceful co-existence.
He commended the University of Ilorin for organizing the games.
Jonathan said, “The 13th edition of the games, I understand has brought together the quest for excellence from over 3,000 athletes from 14 nations in 60 universities of the sub-region regardless of ethnic origins, political persuasion, religion, gender, language or age, to compete in a state of friendship, tolerance and mutual respect.
“The WAUG is more than performance and celebration of sports; the world in which we live today is in dire need of peace, tolerance and fraternity.”
He charged all the athletes and officials to ensure strict adherence to the rules of the games and avoid acts capable of undermining the integrity of the games and tarnishing the image of their respective countries, institutions and organizations.
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Education, Prof. Rugayyatu Rufa’I, said sports could reduce youth restiveness and provide an avenue for productive engagement of youths.
“I therefore admonish you to continue in the spirit of good sportsmanship and honor as you are expected to see the games as an avenue of friendship and love which is expected to boost the African spirit in us,” she said.
In the same vein, President, West African Universities Games, Prof. Lasun Emiola, said WAUG Games and WAUG Championships had greatly helped in the development of standard sports facilities in all the host universities.
The Chief Host, Prof. Is-hag Oloyede, said the theme of the 13 edition of WAUG, ‘Promoting regional co-optation through effective sports participation’ reflected the objectives of the games.