Friday, August 17, 2012

President Goodluck Jonathan orders overhaul of sports sector in Nigeria

Expressing dismay over the poor outing of the Nigerian Olympic team in the just concluded London Olympic Games, President Goodluck Jonathan has directed that the entire gamut of the sporting sector of the country should be re-organised.

Despite the release of N 2.2 billion two months before the London Olympics the 55-man Nigerian contingent with a coterie of officials returned home without any medal, while irregular medal clinchers like Tunisia, Uganda, Algeria and even Gabon and Botswana, returned home with some medals of varying colours.

This is the third time that Nigeria will record such an abysmal performance at the Games. The first was at the 1980 Moscow Games and the second was at 1988 Seoul Olympics.

President Jonathan, Wednesday, advocated for a national retreat at which the apex government, state governments and the private sector will discuss how to reinvigorate the country's sporting sector in order to make it robust and productive.

The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku told State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that the president has indicated that some key sports administrators will be affected by the changes being proposed but he did not give names of those that will be affected.

The Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, who traditionally ought to have been present, was conspicuously absent at the briefing.

Sources in the know revealed that some prominent administrators, particularly the Director General of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Chief Patrick Ekeji, may lose his plum job.

President Jonathan, the information minister said, was irked by the performance of the athletes and said that the industry should be rekindled to meet future challenges through proper planning, provision of adequate funds and the setting of standards that could be met in all future games.

"President Goodluck Jonathan ordered for a total and comprehensive re-organization of the sporting sector, following the disappointing performances of Nigerian contingent to the London 2012 Olympics.

"The President accordingly directed for a national retreat which will involved state governments as well as the private sector to re-order priorities in the Nigerian sporting sector.

"He said what took place in London must be the beginning of a new momentum to place Nigerian sports at a level that will enable this country return to the glory it is known for in the areas of sports.

"President Jonathan believes for us to change the present scenario, we need to specialize, we need to plan and we need to fund sports in a way that this country will continue to make impact in the sporting sector.

"He believes that the next Commonwealth Games and the 2016 Olympics in Brazil must enable Nigeria sets specific targets and realize them in order to promote our sports development.

"He also called for a new direction in sports management as well as funding and planning. He believes that what this nation needs at the moment is to take a sober look at what has happened and indeed change the scenario by working hard on all that we need to do to return the sporting sector to his glory.

"Mr. President emphasis the need for early planning, better administration of sports as well as funding which he believes can no longer be left to the government alone but must involve the private sector to generate sufficient resources to return our sports to it's glory.

"So in the next couple of weeks you are going to see action in this area as we prepare to work and ensure that Nigeria in subsequent events, in continental and global takes it proper place within the continent and globally in sporting competitions."

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