FATHER of Tourism in Nigeria and former president, Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria (ATPN), Chief Mike Amachree, has called on the different tiers of government in the country to develop traditional wrestling.
Amachree, who said this in a chat with pressmen in Port Harcourt, insisted that it has become very important for government to develop traditional games like wrestling which he said as this will help the youths to be gainfully engaged, develop their personality as individuals, and help promote the culture and tradition of the people of Nigeria.
He also said that engaging youths in traditional wrestling will help reduce crimes in the society like kidnappings and at the same time boost Nigerian tourism content.
“There is no tribe in Nigeria that does not engage in traditional wrestling in different forms. It is a healthy traditional sporting activity.
“The government can promote it and encourage the youths to participate. So many youths are interested in football, which is a foreign sport.
“Traditional wrestling in Nigeria can be compared to other sports and cultural activities sometimes held during festivals. The Offa people in Kwara State celebrate it with a festival known as Ijakadi Lori Offa, just as EmohuaIkwerre land traditional wrestling of River State.
“Traditional wrestling attracts interest among youths, adults, senior citizens, young women, mature women, adult men, handicapped persons, prisoners, peasant farmers, civil servants, artisans, and others.
“Like football, we can also do the same for traditional wrestling and promote it to world standard. Some West Africa countries like Senegal have promoted their traditional wrestling into a tourism product that people come from far and near to see. We can equally do the same.”
“I know in some parts of the country, like in the north, it is already a very popular traditional sport among locals. In order to promote traditional wrestling as a sport and tourism product, it needs a government stamp of support and promotion.”
“Also, in organising this kind of event as a tourism product, there are so many top tourism industry practitioners scattered all over the country that governments could consult who include the president, Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria’s (FTAN), MrNkereuwemOnung, Tarzan Balogun in Lagos and John Best in the Plateau.
Others includeMallanKabir in Kaduna, Chief Margaret BolanleFabiyi, MrJemiAlade, and many others.
These are individual who for so many years have been involved in the effort to develop Nigerian tourism and create viable tourism products that could attract the world to Nigeria. Also, great culture and tourism administrators like OtunbaSegunRunsewe, the Director General, National Council for Arts and Culture could spearhead this move.”