Minister of Youth and Sports Development Sunday Dare, says the sports sector will receive N80 billion in the next four years, under the federal government’s National Development Plan (NDP).
Mr Dare said this in Abuja while receiving the “Outstanding Youth and Sports Minister” award, presented to him by the Executive Board of Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), led by its President, Habu Gumel.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the award was presented to the minister for his contributions to sports development in Nigeria and the Olympic movement.
Mr Dare said that a percentage of the NDP fund for the sports sector would go directly to sports federations since they were the main propellers of athletes’ success, which had now been attributed to him.
“I salute the resilience of the sports federations. Their sacrifices and work in developing sports in Nigeria deserve commendation.
“In spite of the challenges of funding, they still turn up for international competitions, thereby giving the athletes the needed exposure and training required to compete at the elite level.
“We all know that without these athletes, nothing is possible in sports, while there will be no achievements,” he said.
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The minister also identified funding as one of the biggest challenges of sports development in Nigeria. A problem, he said, the newly approved National Sports Industry Policy (NSIP) will solve.
“The incentives outlined in the Sports as Business Policy have been approved and will be announced soon.
“The technical committee has put finishing touches to the document and it will become fully operational soon.
“This will drive private sector support for sports and there will be a massive turnaround, as the funding issue will be confronted headlong.
“In the last four years, the sports ministry had moved from being a third tier ministry to being a first tier one.
“Just a few weeks back, the federal government approved N2.4 billon for a High Performance Centre to be established inside the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
“Before then, there was the Anti Doping Centre to be established in Nsukka, Enugu State,” he said.
Mr Dare commended NOC for offering scholarships to many Nigerian athletes and combining its participation in sports with education.
Earlier, Gumel commended the minister for his many achievements, some of which, he said, included the emergence of the National Sports Industry Policy (NSIP) and the ‘Adopt Initiative’.
Other achievements, he said, were the revamping of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), payment of monthly stipends to the families of departed sports icons, as well as provision of financial support to ailing former and active athletes.
According to the NOC president, another remarkable legacy is the delivery of the headquarters and secretariat of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) by the federal government.
He recalled that the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, inaugurated the ANOCA secretariat.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, Ismaila Abubakar, thanked the minister for his ‘wonderful’ performance in office.
Mr Abubakar, while wishing Mr Dare well in his future endeavours, called for stronger cooperation between the ministry and the Olympic family.
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