Don’t Leave Sports In Politicians Hands, Stakeholders Tell Tinubu

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Some keen followers of sports in Nigeria have have advise the President-elect, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, to ensure capable hands administer sports during his tenure, following his victory in the 2023 Presidential Elections held on Saturday.

With Tinubu’s inauguration as President still ahead, sports administrators and journalists in the country are already looking into the former Lagos State Governor’s action plan for the sector.

In his manifesto titled Renewed Hope 2023, Tinubu’s plan for sports development was weaved around training, athletes funding, sports as business and tool for national unity.

“We will unleash the potential and talent of our youth in different sports through a dynamic training and funding approach that will upgrade the standard of our sports development. The return of school sports and grassroots sports will be made the cornerstone of our sports development policy.

“Towards achieving a coordinated sports development programme, we will create an enabling environment for sports to thrive as a business. The New National Sports Industry Policy will be fully implemented. Incentives will be provided to attract private sector investments and participation in sports infrastructural development,” the manifesto read in part.

Retired sprinter and Olympic bronze medallist Deji Aliu stated, for the incoming President to develop sports in Nigeria, the first step is to put technocrats and professionals with knowledge of sports who are very passionate about sports and not politicians and then provide all the necessary support they need to grow sports.

“If we have administrators that are passionate about sports, they will know what it means for an athlete to devote his time to represent his or her country. A passionate person will make sure that his priority is the athletes and sportsmen. If we have people like that in the system, that will help transform the sports sector.

“Then he should focus on fixing and upgrading all the stadiums in the country to the standard that is obtained outside the country.”

Chairman, Professional Footballers Association Task Force, Harrison Jalla, also harped on the need to engage the right people for the execution of Tinubu’s goals.

“What I will advise him to do is to focus on professional sports in Nigeria, and with the right approach and competent people in charge, we will get there.”

A board member of the Nigeria Handball Federation, Sylvester Ikuejamoye, opined that a thriving sports industry had the potential to turn the fortunes of the country around.

“When we have a sports-driven economy, it can accommodate our athletes and take good care of them even after retirement so that we won’t encounter brain drain. So, we should be able to produce athletes that will bring us glory and also make us a force to reckon with globally. The totality of what is at play is for us to have people who know what it takes to run sports; not just experts but people who are ready to make a difference,” Ikuejamoye said.

Veteran journalist and former President of AIPS Africa, Mitchel Obi, is hopeful the incoming government will translate their words to action.

“I look ahead to his inauguration as President and no doubt counting on the fulfilment of his published blueprint for youth and sports,” Obi said.

“Let’s hope this envisaged third APC dispensation will match the touted renewed hope in our sports sphere. Maybe the real change in our sports dynamics is on its way, and we can now see our sports as a veritable enabler in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. That’s the only way to go,” he added.

General Manager, SuperSport, Felix Awogu, stressed on the need to keep sports facilities in the country working.

I’m happy he is looking at the grassroots sector because that is the bedrock of the future of sports in Nigeria.

“Let’s keep the infrastructure basic and easy for people to maintain because we keep building facilities for tournaments but what happens afterwards? So, we need to find a means to maintain and keep our facilities functional. We need to figure out how to make these things work and that will go a long way,”Awogu noted.

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