The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Barrister Solomon Dalung has reiterated that the seemingly unending crisis within the sports industry in Nigeria will end the moment the government stops funding.
He stated this yesterday while launching the Elite Athlete Development grant midwived by the Nigeria Sports Development Fund Inc. (NSDFI) at the media centre of the National Stadium, Abuja.
During his speech, the minister basked in euphoria by congratulating Nigerians for coming up with the solution to solving the contentious problem of sports funding which according to him is a global phenomenon that is not peculiar to Nigeria.
“However when other nations have made headways, Nigeria is still struggling in this respect. It is against this backdrop that this initiative is a welcome one”, he said.
He further emphasised on the need for a private sector partnership which he revealed as being vital to the development of Nigerian sports. According to him, “this is important because nations have used sports to exhibit their supremacy and attract development to themselves”, he quipped.
He pointed out that the crisis within the sports federations were as a result of the cheap money they receive from the government which must stop for sports to develop.
“The Nigerian government over the years have single-handedly shouldered the responsibility of sports development in Nigeria especially when it comes to the provision of facilities, personnel and participation in global tournaments. This is simply not sustainable”.
“One of the greatest factor that promotes crisis is government funding. All the fighting that has been going on in all the federation is about the cheap money provided by the government” he stated.
According to him, if the private sector will take the funding of sports as obtainable in other climes, the crisis in the federations will end. There will be more accountability to the investor who has put his resources in the sports development.
Dalung further berated the stakeholders who lay claims to bogus achievements in sports without anything to show for but would rather develop guerrilla tactics of blackmailing and fighting to protect and preserve their personal interests. He called them ‘stakeholders without a stake’.
He however urged the management of the Fund to show transparency, accountability and integrity at the center of their operations as these will build public confidence and attract investors.
In his own speech, the Director-General of the Fund, Mr Olajide Fashikun urged the minister to take the campaign of raising 4.5 million Nigerians to donate N200 each to the Federal Executive Council whose members will raise fund for one athlete.
He went down the memory lane when such initiative supported the athletes prepare for Atlanta 96.
Subsequent beneficiaries will be announced by the Chairman of the Elite Athlete Development Grants committee headed by Mr Stanley Nkwazema. The other members of the seven-man committee are former African badminton champion Mrs Oby Solaja is Vice Chairman, first Nigerian to attend five Olympics Chief Mary Onyali and former 800m champion Fatimoh Muhammed.
The others are former handball player Emmanuel Olubiyo, College of Education Ilesa lecturer Dr Olukayode Bolarinwa and Lagos State SWAN chairman Debo Oshundun.
It will noted here that the Elite Athlete Development Grants targets to support and promote 90 elite Nigerian athletes to mount the podium at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.