By Goodluck Ikiebe
The Federal Government has called on the National Sports Federations to look inward and ensure they develop programmes and initiatives that will attract private sector investors in the development of Sports in the country
The Honourable Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh, gave the charge in his office at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium Abuja during the joint meeting with the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) and Presidents of National Sports Federations.
He stated that Sports has now moved from mere recreation to a business and thus, it behoves on the leadership of all the federations to now begin to explore ways to attract private sector investors both international and local so as to help effectively drive their Sports and not exclusively depending on government for funding, this he said, is the practice the world over.
Senator Owan Enoh stated further that there are many private sector organisations that are willing to invest in Sports in Nigeria but that the federations needs to step up rewarding activities that will attract them.
He stressed that government can no longer fund the sector alone and that is why the present administration in its wisdom, recently endosed the National Sports Industry Policy (NSIP) approved by the immediate past administration in the renewed Hope Agenda of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led Administration to provide opportunities for the private sector participation in the development of sports in Nigeria.
The Minister informed that the policy outlines some insensitives that can attract private sector investors such as *tax exemption and rebate for a period of 5 years for investors in the value chain of sports; land provision and waiver for certain fees on lands meant for sports; single digit loan interest rates for corporate organisations and private individuals investing in the sports value chain as well as independent Government Grant through the establishment of an Independent Athletes Welfare Fund (AWF) from which athletes representing the country can draw support for education and trainings amongst others.*
Senator Owan Enoh explained that government is not shielding its responsibility of funding the Federations but that it is determined to open up the sector to allow for private sector participation in order to provide opportunities for job creation, poverty alleviation as well as enhance the unity of the nation.
While reminding them of the role of Sports in the promotion of social cohesion, unity, peace and understanding between the diversed ethnic groups, religions and culture across the country, the Minister assured that the Ministry of Sports Development under his watch is working towards acquiring appropriations to support the federations for the effective discharge of their duties in line with the policy thrust of the government.
He therefore called on them to step up important and relevant programmes that will woo the corporate and private organisations to join hands and compliment the efforts of the Federal Government in the development of Sports in line with global best practices.
He expressed optimism that if the steps are well taken by the federations, Nigeria will witness rapid transformation in the sector.
“I believe that we have enough private sector people who have shown interest in sports. We have enough private sector companies that are willing to invest in sports. Even at the international arena, we have such companies waiting to invest in Nigeria Sports. What needs to be done to get these resources will be defined by the content of the programme that we have as Presidents of various Federations in Nigeria.
“For example, what kind of scheduled engagement of activities have you put in place that can attract investment in your federation. Let me assure you that my office is open and willing to take suggestions on what needs to be done and collaborate with different Federations so as to ensure the development of sports in Nigeria.
Sports is business. So, we need to see how much business we can make out of it. Different private sector organisations, if they find out that, if you put X,Y and Z, they can get A,B and C, they will come and invest. Therefore, while we are looking up to the government, let us also task ourselves in this regard.” Enoh concluded.
Speaking ealier onbehalf of the federations, the President, Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) Engr Habu Ahmed Gumel, commended the Honourable Minister of Sports Development Senator John Owan Enoh for the crucial meeting with the key stakeholders in the industry and also on keeping his doors open to their requests even though he had recently met with the Presidents of the National Sports Federations
While congratulating the Honourable Minister on his appointment by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and subsequent confirmation by the National Assembly, as the Captain of Nigerian sports, Engr Gumel informed that their request to meet with the Minister was to enabled them jointly brainstorm and look at some of the critical and imminent issues facing the Federations with a view to finding solutions for them.
He enumerated the issues to include among others, the forthcoming multi-sports Games – the Winter Youth Olympic Games, scheduled to take place from 19th January to 1st February, 2024, the 13th African Games that will be holding in Accra, Ghana from 8th to 23rd March, 2024 and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, which will take place from 26th July to 11th August, 2024.
The NOC President informed that the National Federations are the pivots upon which our national Sports system stands. *They represent the basic constituencies for the discovery, nurturing and showcasing of our sporting talents to the elite levels. This is because only one National Federation can be recognized by the International Federation or African Confederation as the governing body in charge of the respective Sports in their countries* he added.
Engr Gumel, who observed the need for the meeting to take it as a collective responsibility to ensure proper funding of our National Federations at all times, called on the bodies to collaborate with the Federal Government and reciprocate by exhibiting high levels of responsibility and integrity in their administration.
*That, I believe, is a clear way of setting our Sports on the right pedestal of sustainable development. And Honourable Minister, we all pledge to support you and your administration in this collective task of nation building through Sports* Gumel remarked.