By Goodluck Ikiebe
The Federal Government has inaugurated the Main Organizing Committee (MOC) for the successful hosting of the 22nd Edition of the National Sports Festival, tagged *GATEWAY GAMES, OGUN 2024*
scheduled to take place next year in Abeokuta, Ogun State Capital.
The Honourable Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh, who inaugurated the committee on Tuesday in his office at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium Abuja, stated that the inauguration of the MOC was a fallout of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the 6th of May 2023 between the Federal Ministry of Sports Development and the Ogun State Government which signified the commencement of hosting the Sports Festival.
He stated that the inauguration of the Main Organising Committee marks another remarkable milestone for him as the Honourable Minister of Sports Development as well as the National Sports Festival in particular.
While acknowledging that the organization of the National Sports Festival is an enormous task that requires commitment and dedication especially, taking into account that the MOC has short time to put everything in place for the successful hosting of the games, Senator Owan Enoh
expressed optimism that with the zeal and determination of Ogun State Government as well as the calibre of people, who constitute the MOC, the task of organizing the festival will not be insurmountable
He expressed dismay about the manner, in which the National Sports Festival is fully dependent on the Federal and State Governments for funds, explaining that last year’s festival alone hosted not less than 15,000 athletes and team officials; outside the technical officials, Sports Federation personnel and service providers. The trend, he said, is unacceptable and must not be allowed to continue.
The Minister explained that although, the tradition was for the funding of the games to be shared between the Federal
Ministry of Sports Development and the State hosting the games, but that with the current economic realities and especially with the global practice, sponsorship of sporting events is no longer the responsibility of government alone as Sports has become a business the world over, and that Nigeria cannot be an exemption.
He stated that conscious of this fact was one of the reasons why the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led Administration in its Renewed Hope Agenda endorsed the National Sports Industry Policy approved by the immediate past administration to drive the Sports Development in the country so as to provide the teeming youths with job opportunities and alleviate poverty amongst them with a view to ensuring a peaceful and safe society for the benefit of all Nigerians.
Senator Owan Enoh added that with the National Sports Industry Policy kicking in, Sports should now be seen by all as not only a mere recreation but a business where private sector can invest their resources to yield greater benefits and profits.
The Minister described Sports as a multi billion dollar business, which is driven successfully by the private sector globally and expressed optimism that if that could work in other climes, there is no reason it should not work in Nigeria.
Senator Owan Enoh stated further that
after 22 years, the National Sports Festival has become a brand capable of attracting corporate sponsorship. He therefore charged the Main Organising Committee to package the Festival in such a way that it will make it attractive for the private sector to sponsor.
The Minister used the opportunity to appeal to all Sports loving Nigerians, private and corporate organizations as well as philanthropists to join hands with the present administration in its determination to ensure the development of Sports in the country.
Responding, the Chairman MOC and Permanent Secretary overseeing the Federal Ministries of Youth and Sports Development, Alhaji
Ismaila Abubakar, thanked the Honourable Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in particular for the opportunity given to them to serve the country in this capacity.
He assured that members will bring their wealth of experience to bear in ensuring the successful hosting of the games in line with the policy thrust of the Federal Government.
Also in his remarks shortly after the inauguration ceremony, the Ogun State Commissioner for Sports, Mr Wasiu Isiaka, stated that the State was fully ready to ensure the successful hosting of the Sports festival equal to none in recent times.
Members of the Main Organising Committee (MOC) inaugurated by the Honourable Minister are:
Alhaji Ismaila Abubakar, Permanent Secretary, Overseeing the Federal Ministries of Youth and Sports Development – Chairman; Bukola Olapade (Chairman LOC) as Vice Chairman.
Other members of the Committee are Dr. Paul Onyeudo, Olufehinti Olusegun, Mohammed Manga, Gregory Zi, Ms Fadeke Fadeyibi, Engr. Abolore Alanamu, Patrick Okeke, Mrs. Amaka Ashiofu, Prof. Olawale Moronkola, Engr. Habu Gumel, Sunday Odebode, Emmanuel Utobo, Bamiduro Olumide, Brendan Ndifon, Adebayo Adeyinka, Amechi Akawo, Waziri Abubakar Mohammed, Mrs Thecla Opara (Member/Secretary) and Dr Kweku Tandoh.