Various sports stakeholders have commended President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for hosting the sports sector retreat, with the highest level of government participation in Nigeria, noting that this marks a new dawn for sports development in Nigeria according to a press release by Julius Ogunro ,special assistant (media) to sports minister.
The retreat, which held Monday, last week, had in attendance the President, Vice President, the Sports Minister, Minister of Finance and virtually all members of the Federal Executive Council. Captains of industries, sports professionals and enthusiasts were also well represented at the summit, which sought ways to build enduring systems and ensure sustainable sporting success for Nigeria.
Solomon Ogba, the President of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria, AFN, said the high level of government presence underscored “the fact that we are now ready to give sports the kind of attention it deserves.”
Ogba said the high-level private sector participation at the retreat also pleased him, stating that the partnership between the government and private sector in sports is unbeatable. “Sports is a vehicle to change lives and if well harnessed it can even change perception about the government,” he said.
For Sani Ndanusa, President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee and former sports minister, sports is now getting the kind of political backing enthusiasts had craved for a long time. “It is the first time we are seeing this kind of expression of political will to move our sports forward. I was also happy that for the first time sports was discussed as an economic issue just like power and infrastructure,” Ndanusa said.
He also commended the Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi for his great leadership and sincerity of purpose. “I am sure the minister (of sports) will make great impact because of his sincerity and desire to work with everyone to achieve success. The usual acrimony in the sector is now absence and this a very good sign,” he said.
Aminu Maigari, the President of the Nigerian Football said the sports summit represents a major milestone in sports development. “ It is the first time ever that a Nigerian President would so commit himself to sports. The President sat through all the deliberations, for more than 10 hour discussing sports.
“I believe he was sending a message that things will now be done differently and we are ready to return to our winning ways,” Maigari said.
The consultants McKinsey, who helped organized the retreat, are putting the recommendations reached at the event together for implementation by the Sports Ministry.