SPORTS in Nigeria is a sector that needs overhauling.
Former president Muhammad Buhari Administration saw two ministers during each four years tenure which generated both knocks and kudos.
The former ministers, Solomon Dalung and Sunday Dare, both steered the affairs of sports during the last eight years. Although the latter left indelible imprints with the introduction of some policies, the health of the industry is still looking pale, bordering on the paucity of sporting facilities, lack of sponsorship, poor welfare of athletes, among others.
Some of the initiatives during the last four years of the Buhari administration were the National Sports Industry Policy (NSIP) which was aimed to increase private participation in sports development through investment and government incentives; the adopt initiative, which included: adopt-an-athlete, adopt-a-pitch, adopt-a-team and adopt-a-facility.
The adopt-a-facility witnessed the support to revamp the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja and the renovation of the National Stadium in Lagos.
Other include the 10-years football master plan towards rebuilding youth football and bringing to life the domestic national league.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration appointed a former senator, John Owan Enoh (JOE), as the 36th Minister of Sports.
The ICIR spoke with stakeholders in the industry on their advice to this new administration.
A sports journalist based in Lagos, Enitan Obadina, advised the new sports minister to develop sports at the grassroots level through policy formulation, saying that the Nigeria Sports Industry Policy (NSIP) introduced by the last administration is yet to come to life.
“It (NSIP) is still at the ministerial level and some discussion, it needs to pass fully into the law in a short space of time so that it will open up the sports industry for the private sector to get value and add value to the sports industry.”
According to him, the development of sports at the grassroots is the bedrock and catalyst to unearthing talents that will raise the flag on high in major sports competitions, both local and international.
But he lamented, “Most of the sports facilities and the places one can catch future stars or where coaches can train the future stars are dying.”
Building a multi-purpose sports hall
To enhance athletes’ performance in sports, Obadina said, “We need a world-class multi-purpose indoor sports hall that can host a major event. Maybe the administration can collaborate with private companies to help achieve that.”
He noted that some Nigerian athletes had failed doping tests, which caused national embarrassment, hence the need to build a doping lab.
Doping test facility
“Another area the new administration needs to spread its hands on is an area of doping. We need a doping lab. The last minister Sunday Dare talked about having a sport science in Abuja, that needs to come to life.
“If we have this centre, our athletes will be sharpened to be world-class right from Nigeria”.
Work on Infrastructure deficit
The spokesperson for Nigeria Scrabble Federation (NSF) Maxwell Kumoye said that the infrastructure deficit has been a major bane of Nigeria’s sports, saying that the country does not have enough sports infrastructure compared with other African countries.
“We do not have approved facilities that are of a high standard.
“So, the new minister will fight that infrastructural deficit and decay. We do not have enough, and the ones we have are in a sorry state, so when the minister comes in, let work begin on these facilities. Once these facilities get on the ground, then we can now talk about additional ones,” he said.
Kumoye stated that Nigeria has a comparative advantage over some African countries in sports like scrabble and weightlifting but needs modern training for their coaches.
“Our coaches, where do they stand compared with other African coaches in handball, volleyball, tennis, table tennis, scrabble, weightlifter? Yes, there are some sports we have a comparative advantage over in some African countries, both a lot of coaches are archaic, stone age,” he said.
Empowerment of technical official
The Scrabble federation spokesperson said the body managing sport in Nigeria should hold the various sporting federations responsible, get their calendar of events and look at their plans for managing and developing technical officials.
“For instance, in football, how many referees of Nigerian descent officiate at international competitions, whether at centre or assistant referee?
“In football, besides the immediate Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Amaju Pinnick, the rest are nowhere. In basketball, apart from Col. Sam Ahemdu, who is zone 3 FIBA Africa president, the rest are nowhere.
“So there must be a progressive plan towards getting Nigerians to international bodies, and they should not just go there and play second fiddle. They should be there to push so that Nigeria can be recognised. At the West African level Ghana is the one controlling WAFU”.
Kumoye added that there should be adequate training for athletes to prepare for local and international competitions.
“Most of these associations are near dormant; they do not have enough local competition and attending international competition, most do not. So how will they even qualify for the major Olympics?
“So the minister must work hard, getting funds for associations to compete on the continent even at the regional level.
“For years now, Scrabble has been recognised as an official sport but has hardly been funded by the sports ministry.”
Autonomy of sports association
He stressed the need for sports associations to be autonomous.
Sports federations in Nigeria include Amateur Bodylifting and Fitness Federation, Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Badminton Federation of Nigeria, Bobsled and Skeleton Federation of Nigeria, Cycling Federation of Nigeria, Handball Federation of Nigeria and Karate Federation of Nigeria.
Others are Ladies Golfers Association, Nigeria Acquatic Federation, Nigeria Archery Federation, Nigeria Autosport Federation, Nigeria Baseball and Softball Association, Nigeria Basketball Federation, Nigeria Chess Federation, Nigeria Cricket Federation, Nigeria Federation for Physically Disabled, Nigeria Football Federation, Nigeria Golf Federation, Nigeria Hockey Federation, Nigeria Judo Federation, Nigeria Olympics Committee, Nigeria Paralympic Committee, Nigeria Polo Sport Federation, Nigeria Rowing Canoe and Sailing Federation, Nigeria Rugby Federation and Nigeria Shooting Sport Federation.
Other are: Nigeria Table Tennis Federation, Nigeria Tenpin Bowling Federation, Nigeria Weightlifting Federation, Nigeria Wrestling Federation, Nigeria Fencing Federation, Sport Fishermen’s Association of Nigeria, Taekwondo Federation of Nigeria and the Nigeria Federation of Gymnastics