The Grand Finale of the President Muhammadu Buhari Golf Tournament got underway at the IBB International Golf and Country Club in Abuja on Saturday.
The two-day event, organised by Media Trust Limited, the publishers of Daily Trust newspaper, attracted over 250 golfers of various categories.
This group comprises professionals, amateurs, special guest players, captains of golf clubs, lady captains and veteran players.
Speaking at the tee-off ceremony, President Muhammadu Buhari noted that golf has the potential to unify Nigerians across all social strata if properly harnessed.
Represented by Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, Buhari said sports have played a crucial role in unifying Nigerians.
“I am here on behalf of Mr President. I’m delighted to represent the President, as this is the first golf tournament in his honour. President Buhari told me he plays hockey and squash, but that he likes golf.
“In his words, sports play a critical role in keeping the peace of the country. In sports, it doesn’t matter your background. It doesn’t recognise those social differences people use to colour the society,” he said.
While commending the organisers and players for honouring him with the tournament, Buhari appealed for continued promotion of peace and unity of the country through sports.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the maiden President Muhammadu Buhari Golf Tournament was conceived to “appreciate the President’s zeal and determination to strengthen the nation’s unity through sports”.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Media Trust Limited, Mannir Dan-Ali, said Daily Trust had been at the forefront of promoting the game of golf.
“We’ve been involved in golf for years now. We’ve organised tournaments in Lagos, Kano and Dutse. So, this tournament is a culmination of all those other tournaments.
“Unlike what many think, golf is not for the high and mighty only. Many see it as elitist from outside, but when you come in you will see that it involves all layers of society.
“We therefore want to use it to play up the unity of the country. Often, we tend to focus on what divides us than what unites us.
“We are impressed with the turnout. The number of professionals involved in this tournament is quite impressive,” he said.
Dan-Ali promised that the tournament would not be a flash in the pan, as his organisation would make it an annual event.
The Grand Finale, which brought together about 50 professionals and at least 38 special guest golfers, is being played in a two-session shot-gun format.
Preliminary rounds of the tournament had been played in the six geo-political zones, while the semi-finals were held in Kaduna in March.
Royal Father of the Tee-Off Ceremony and Emir of Dutse, Muhammadu Sanusi, commended the organisers and urged them to ensure continuity.
“This is the maiden edition of this tournament and I believe Daily Trust has done its best to promote golf in this country. We should acknowledge the efforts of the organisation.
“The newspaper has a weekly column which it uses to promote golf and now they have organised a golf tournament in honour of Mr President.”
The President Muhammadu Buhari Golf Tournament will end with a Closing/Awards Ceremony on Sunday.(NAN)