Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Hon. John Harry has called on Exxon Mobil to go beyond sponsorship of athletics championships to provision of sporting equipment to promote sports among the students.
Harry made the appeal at the presentation of cash prizes to the winners of the 2008 edition of the athletics championship in Uyo.
He commended Mobil for sponsoring the Championship for eight years running, pledging the state governments support.
The commissioner called on other multinational companies in the state to follow the example of Exxon Mobil in order to complement effort of Akwa Ibom State Government to develop sports to enviable height.
He said that his call for sports equipment was informed by the fact that the state government has taken care of schools fees at secondary level so awarding scholarships would amount to duplication of function.
Rather, efforts should be geared towards providing equipment to aid sport development among the students.
He therefore, warned against the idea of mercenaries, adding that the championship should be open to only students who are presently in school.
Addressing the event which also featured a press conference, the executive director, Exxon Mobil, Mrs Gloria Essien-Danner commended Governor Godswill Akpabio for pulling the children of Akwa Ibom from the streets and house help syndrome through free and compulsory education.
Represented by the Public Affairs Manager, Rita Umoren, she expressed hope that the 9th edition of the championship will witness keen competiton as the number of competitors is bound to swell following this development.
She thanked Akpabio for the N1m he donated to boost the championship and other partners and restated commitment to continue the sponsorship of the programme.
The ED joined the Hon. Commissioner to warn against fielding of mercenaries by greedy games masters/mistresses for economic gains and fame.
Answering questions fielded by journalists, the consultant, Mr. Paul Bassy, however, said no school had so far been penalised for fielding mercenaries, but warned that any one caught would be black listed.
On the issue of increasing the cash prizes, he said Exxon Mobil was not contemplating that for now, adding that the aim of championship was to encourage sports participation.