By Goodluck Ikiebe
In a renewed determination to ensure the development of Sports in Nigeria, the Federal government has reassured that it will collaborate with the private sector to ensure not only its development but also to drive the desired change in the Sports sector.
This is a strategy to move Sports away from mere recreation to a business.
The Honourable Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh, stated this when he paid a courtesy call on the Management of the Nigerian Breweries PLc, Lagos to spearhead private investment drive for the purpose of advancing the sector
Senator Owan Enoh revealed that Government plans to relate with the private sector a lot more closely and develop a framework that would help improve facilities, training, and grassroots development across various Sports in the country with a view to providing job opportunities for the teeming youths, ensure poverty reduction as well as promote unity, peace and stability in the country.
He explained that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led Administration is committed to ensuring peace and security across the country and that was why it created a Ministry of Sports Development to enhance the unity of all Nigerians irrespective of their tribe, religion or ethnicity as Sports remains a veritable tool towards achieving this objective.
He added that private sector participation is key in the realization of the policy thrust of government and that was one of the reasons it recently endorsed the implementation of National Sports Industry Policy (NSIP) in its renewed Hope Agenda to provide opportunity for private sector engagement.
Senator Owan Enoh noted that there is a lot that Nigerian Breweries and other private investors can do to support and assist with the impact that Sports can have on the fabric of the society.
He assured that the Ministry will continue to collaborate and establish cordial working relationships with the private sector for the benefit of the nation.
The Minister stated that the government’s desire to collaborate with the private sector is a move aimed at bolstering Nigeria’s sporting industry and ensuring the continued growth of various sports in the country in line with global best practices.
He pointed out that his visit to the Headquarters of the Nigerian Breweries Plc was to discuss potential Sports investment opportunities.
“The visit is significant as it is a step towards fostering collaboration between the government and the private sector to advance the nation’s Sports landscape”, he noted.
The Minister, who was received by Top Executives at Nigerian Breweries, including the Managing Director, Mr. Hans Essaadi, said that the potential of Sports in the country is enormous and that the country needs to tap into the potential to upscale achievements and find more consistency in these achievements.
“This visit is to restore confidence, and to state that more than before, the Nigerian Sports Industry needs the private sector to be more involved. The new leadership at the Ministry is approaching its responsibilities with the determination to restore confidence and trust. This determination is fueled by passion to drive change in the Nigerian Sports Ecosystem”, he added.
He emphasized that Nigerian Breweries Plc has a rich history of supporting Sports, most notably through its sponsorship of school Sports and grassroots tourneys.
“The company’s contributions have not only bolstered the sporting sector but also created a platform for young talents to showcase their skills”, Senator Owan Enoh noted.
He expressed optimism that the government’s partnership with the organization would serve as a significant boost to the Sports sector in Nigeria and provide the necessary support for emerging talents, adding that private investments such as Maltina School Sports, Milo Basketball tourney, Shell Cup, Pepsi U-13 championships amongst others are known to have led to the discovery of lots of talents, who were placed on the national map.
Collaboration with the private sector, the Minister stated will also provide further opportunities in infrastructure upgrade and making facilities closer to the younger potentials as well to further drive Sports at the grassroots.
In his remarks, the Managing Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr Hans Essaadi emphasized the integral role that Sports play in promoting a healthy and active nation, and the need for continued support and investment in various sporting disciplines.
He admitted that Sports is a powerful tool for national unity, as well as a social inclusion instrument.
With the visit of the Honourable Minister to one of the country’s leading corporate organisations, it is believed that it will not only safeguard the future of Sports Development in Nigeria but also open up new opportunities for athletes, fans, and the Sports industry as a whole.