By Emmanuel Afonne
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has allocated five hectares of land to the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) for the construction of its permanent secretariat in Abuja.
A communique, signed on Tuesday by Tony Nezianya, Public Relations Officer, NOC, quoted Habu Gumel, Committee’s President, as announcing this at their Executive Board Meeting held at the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) office in Abuja.
Nezianya also quoted Gumel as saying that the NOC had already taken possession of all the relevant documents of the land.
“The land will house the committee’s permanent secretariat and some sporting infrastructure as well as other complementing facilities.
“It will be fenced to protect the property
“In order not to let the land lie fallow for a long time, the committee has taken an opportunity offered by the ANOCA to apply for a grant to build some essential facilities like the Secretariat,” the communique quoted Gumel as saying.
He further told the meeting that the newly re-developed Amuwo Odofin Olympic Village in Lagos, with a football pitch, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, an Indoor hall for multi-purpose uses, had been unveiled.
“This is where sports and cultural events can be held under one roof; the facility also has an Athletics running tracks.”
The communique outlined other important decisions reached by the NOC to pave a better way forward for the board.
One of the decisions is an agreement jointly signed with the Ministry of Sports and Youth Development that Team Nigeria would participate in various international sporting events.
They include the African Beach Games, the Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad & Tobago, and the ANOC World Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia.
“It is the belief of the committee that these foregoing Games will help the federations in their preparations ahead of the African Games to be staged by Ghana in March 2024 and the 2024 Paris Olympic Games to be hosted by France.
“With these decisions, it is evident that the NOC has loaded international programmes ahead of the Paris Games.
“In between, there are many Olympic qualifying championships to be attended by National Sports Federations for them to make the stiff qualifying standards for the Paris Games.
The meeting later received Sunday Dare, the outgone Minister of Sports and Youth Development, who used the opportunity of the gathering of elite sports administrators to have a session with the Executive Board.
Dare praised the committee for enduring work it had been doing to provide funding support for training grants and scholarships from the Olympic Solidarity and ANOCA.
“I have been able to secure all approvals, making sports an industry.
“This means that companies that support sports will get tax exemptions; this is one crucial accomplishment that can turn around the fortunes of sports.
“We have also obtained assurance that the athletes will henceforth be fairly rewarded as they will be better prepared to win medals in major Games,” Nezianya quoted Dare in the communique as saying.
Dare also commended the NOC for the numerous courses it usually secured from the Olympic Solidarity through the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and ANOCA in improving the skills of coaches and sports administrators and pleaded that they be sustained.
Responding on behalf of the committee, Gumel commended the minister over the numerous achievements under his watch, including victories during the Commonwealth Games and the World Athletics Championships.
He also commended Dare for raising funds to support the completion of the ANOCA Secretariat.
Gumel reminded the meeting, attended by National Federations, that the last time Team Nigeria won major medals from the Olympic Games was at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics where the country won two gold medals.
The first was the Nigeria’s Dream Team led by Nwankwo Kanu that won the football Olympic Gold and
Policewoman, Chioma Ajunwa, who won the women’s Long Jump in a distance of 6.12 metres in her first jump at the Games.
She did not improve in subsequent jumps as the first was enough to fetch her the ultimate medal.
The IOC member also said that the World Championship provided an avenue for Tobin Amunsan and her colleagues to post exceptional performances.
“We must produce exceptional athletes who should turn around the fortunes of the country by winning Gold medals at the Paris Games in 2024,” Gumel added. (NAN)