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Needed! A more responsive National Sports Commission

Posted: Apr 26, 2015 at 1:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Uzor Odigbo, Lagos

The National Sports Commission (NSC) was created in December 2006 and has witnessed some reviews lately to make it effective and responsive to the yearnings of the sports fraternity in the country.



A cabinet minister serves as the political head and Chairman of the commission, while its administration is under a Director-General.

The structure of the commission has been radically transformed from that of the defunct ministry to enable it perform its mandate effectively.

As a commission, it has its primary objectives enshrined in the National Sports Policy of 1989, but the sports management structure suffered some setbacks as a result of poor or non-implementation of the 1989 policies.

Among NSC’s philosophies and objectives briefly include using sports as an avenue to minimise anti-social behaviour, promote sports as a means to generate employment and create wealth.

It also gives opportunity to the physically challenged persons to participate in sports of their choice and encourage private sector investment in all sectors of sports.

Others are to ensure utilisation of information technology to collate sport data for effective planning and dissemination of information, encourage the provision of recreational and sporting facilities by the three tiers of government.

Lastly, it helps to ensure adequate and proper funding of sports at all levels.

The Commission, as presently constituted has failed in its responsibilities. It has remained one of the government’s ministries that had witnessed the appointment of more ministers, yet nothing concrete is being done to realise its objectives.

Nigeria is believed to have over 65 per cent of its youth population either in sports business or actively engaged sports practices. To this end, some Nigeria youths are unfortunately engaged in social vices such as kidnapping, drug peddling and armed robbery to the chagrin the sane society.

Sports stakeholders are worried that if the trend is not checked by the incoming Muhammadu Buhari administration, it would be a mirage for the country’s sports to move forward.

Former Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) president, Dan Ngerem, once described the NSC as an institution living in the past.

According to him, Nigerian sports under the NSC is still in comatose, bleeding from all sides and needing help.

“One the major NSC’s objectives is to ensure adequate and proper funding of sports at all levels, but NSC has failed in this area with excuses of no funds for federations to attend major competitions either locally or abroad.

“Athletes would train their hearts out without the corresponding funds to exhibit their prowess at competitions’. Curiously, most Nigerian youths have abandoned sports for other endeavours following NSC’s insolvency,” he said.

Ngerem, however, advised that to make NSC function as effective sports agency, government must ensure that its sports policies are religiously followed and all budgeted funds for sports federations given to them to run their affairs.

He urged government to appoint people with tract records and passion for sports as politicians have no stake in the sector and would eventually destroy the legacy others had built over the years. Sports, he said, must begin to strive under the new Buhari government.

Sports administrators must ensure that sports is not toyed with anymore, according to former coach of the national team, Adegboye Onigbinde.

Onigbinde, in a chat, noted that effective and responsive NSC should positively rob off on the well-being of youths in the country and the state sports councils towards creating healthy rivalry among states in sports.

“I always see the National Sports Commission as an agency of government that has the power to make sports grow in Nigeria, but in reality, the commission has failed in meeting the desire of Nigerian youth population, not because it lacked the personnel for the job, but because the place has been highly politicised and lacking ideas without checks and balances which usually hinders staff from implementing government policies.”

The commission, he said, should reinvent itself as sports is not moving the way it should anymore. Gone are the days Nigeria sportsmen and women are seen moving in and out of the country featuring at various sporting activities around the world. “I don’t want to call it corruption, but a deliberate carelessness.”

Austin Akosa, a former board member of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA), was a staff of the sports ministry many years back. He attested to the fact that the NSC was created to move closer to sports practitioners with a view to promptly assist in the development of sports in the country.

The former chairman of the Nigeria Coaches Association was, however, surprised that NSC appears like a sitting dock in the face of monumental problems in the sports sector. “The way things are at the moment, I don’t know whether it was decreed that NSC should not supervise its staff at various locations in the country, especially those in charge of the stadia.

“When you visit some of the stadia under the NSC, you would weep for this country. Sports Federation Secretaries sleep in Abuja just to receive funds for travels.

“Everything is broken down. But, it was not so in our days, I mean 70’s and 80’s when government did not ignore its responsibilities, especially as it concerns sporting activities of its youth population.”

The NSC’s mission statement, which is to develop the sports sector to a world-class level where it would provide continuous improvement of quality of life for the entire citizenry to the extent that Nigeria would be recognised as one of the leading sporting countries in the world, only exists on paper and not in reality.