The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, has identified poor funding, undue government intervention, inefficient administration and policy implementation as main factors hindering development of sports in Nigeria.
Dogara spoke at the National Summit on Sports organised by the House Committee on Sports in Abuja on Tuesday.
He noted that government’s role in sports should only be limited to provision of nucleus fund and creation of legal framework for sports development.
The speaker expressed confidence that the summit, with the theme: “Growing Nigerian Sports from the Grassroots for Championship, Excellence and Sustainable Development”, would contribute greatly to “efforts to get it right in the sector.”
According to Dogara, it is common knowledge that Nigeria is a potential international hub in global sports.
He said Nigeria had made and was still making waves in sporting events of national and international reckoning.
“We have made names in soccer, particularly at international youth tournaments, and have also won gold at the Olympic Games, which all prove to the world that we have what it takes to be on top in sports.
“However, our successes seem to be accidental or once-in-a-while occurrences; the reasons for this are not far-fetched, and they have to do with the issues of inefficient administration and policy implementation.
“Certainly, there is management failure in the sector; for instance, the lingering crisis in the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) is totally uncalled for, it is a war of attrition that is doing no one any good,” he said.
The legislator said that many commentators had said that it was undue government interference that was hindering the development of sports.
He said that the popular view was that sports should be private sector-driven, while government would provide the enabling environment just as obtained in other productive sectors of the economy.
Dogara said that the sector was capital-intensive and there was no way that government alone could effectively fund it.
“Government responsibility should be centred on provision of nucleus fund and creation of the legal framework that will motivate and rally potential sponsors and investors into the sector.
“For instance, records have it that about 26 years ago, British Government invested 200 million pounds in the English Premier League, and today, the League is said to be worth Eight billion pounds.
“Certainly, private sector funding is key to sports development, and we must find a way of achieving this, just as it was done for the communication sector, with great success, and as it is being done for the power sector,” he added.
The speaker expressed the hope that the summit would contribute greatly to efforts targeted at getting it right in the sports sector.