Sustaining Nigeria’s 2023 Achievements in Sports

As President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration clocked a year since coming into office, it has become imperative to look at some strategic interventions put in place to achieve success in the country’s sports sector.

It is uncommon for individuals without deep backgrounds, track records, and experience either as former sports personalities or administrators to record significant achievements.   But Nigeria’s Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh has been able to defy that by recording some great feats in the sector. The performances have been attributed to many things.

Some believe the ability of the new administration to identify Senator Enoh’s contributions as a former lawmaker is the driving force, while others believe his ability to adapt to his new beat quickly made the difference.

Some believe President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s decision to separate sports from other sectors made a difference.

Whatever the success is attributed to, the Tinubu administration generally deserves its flowers in the area of sports development.

The Ministry of Sports Development, under the Tinubu administration, began by analysing and identifying the changes in Nigeria’s sports, engaged stakeholders, and formulated policies to bring about enduring systemic change.

These policies have led to accelerated development in the sector that translated into tangible deliverables.

These include the activation of a welfare system for serving and retired athletes, as well as an annual recognition platform.

President Tinubu cleared all the debts accumulated by the past administration in the funding of football amounted to over N12 billion. Not only was the money paid, but the administration ensured that it was done transparently. No athlete was left out or shortchanged in the payment of the money, which marked a break from the past.

The Ministry of Sports Development also followed up on the well-being of distressed and injured athletes. This show of empathy has proven to be effective in building better relationships and commitment from athletes.

The approval of the National Council on Sports for the establishment of a Court of Arbitration to handle matters within the sector instead of resorting to civil courts is another commendable achievement.

The Tinubu administration ensured the transmission of the national anti-doping bill to the National Assembly to ensure Nigeria has a befitting anti-doping organization that is compliant with the world anti-doping code. This is aimed at professionally guiding athletes.

The ministry’s adoption of the National Sports Industry Policy clearly shows the plan to develop sports through public and private partnership collaboration.

The Tinubu administration has priortized investments in building and revamping sports infrastructure across the country with particular emphasis on grassroots sports development. Part of this is the administration’s plan to implement the 10-year football master plan which would leverage grassroots development.

It is on record that Nigeria performed at the 13th All-African Games in Accra, Ghana. The country finished second, winning a total of 121 medals: 47 gold, 33 silver, and 41 bronze medals.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria won the Silver Medal at the 2023 African Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.  The senior female national football team, the Super Falcons,  was named the Team of the Year in Africa at the 2023 CAF Awards, and Chiamaka Nnadozie was named the first-ever African Goalkeeper of the Year. In the same vein, Elizabeth Oshoba became the first Nigerian female boxer to win a world title.

This focus on excellence also motivated Tobi Amusan to set a new African Women’s indoor record in the 60-meter hurdles at the Astana Indoor event in Kazakhstan, as well as a world-leading time at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational. Part of this motivation also precipitated Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen to win the African Footballer of the Year in 2023.

The Ministry of Sports Development under the Tinubu administration also declared an emergency on football refereeing in the country to improve the standard. It is also on record that Team Nigeria athletes have secured qualifications across 11 different sporting events for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

However, the gains made so far in sports by the administration must be sustained and improved upon in the years ahead. As we applaud the Tinubu administration’s achievements in sports in the last year, it should be pointed out that many hurdles need to be crossed to maintain Nigeria’s high level in sports and raise Nigeria’s rating and rankings globally.

 

 

 

 

 

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