As a fallout of the Inter Ministerial Technical Committee Session convened by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development in collaboration with the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), the Ministry has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the NESG with a view to breaching the magnitude of the funding gap that has held back sports in the country.
Speaking at the signing in Lagos on Tuesday, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development Mr. Sunday Dare said with the reality of government’s dwindling resources as a problem, it equally presents an opportunity for private sector participation and ownership of the business associated with sports.
He said, “It is an opportunity that is demanding attention in the face of shrinking resources. It demands a review of the current situation where government views and treats sports as a social service when in reality it is a multi-billion-naira industry”.
Speaking on the NESG, he said, “The NESG is an important stakeholder in the economic development of Nigeria. Always providing strategic inputs to policy and helping to reshape the thinking in Government, it has transformed itself into a formidable think-tank that no Government should ignore. We are happy to be associated with you. Your unique insight in identifying sports development in Nigeria as a major problem that requires business models as solution has played a key and defining role in bringing us to this epoch-making point in our sports development history”, he said.
He added that the Inter-Ministerial Technical Session on Sports Industry Development report noted that a ‘private sector driven sports industry would ensure the commitment to the required investment to deliver on the potentials of the sports industry to add value to the Nigerian economy, whilst also assisting the Government in its core objectives of social integration, economic empowerment and youth engagement.
The Minister who has always maintained that sports remains a largely untapped sector said, “One of the challenges has always been how to engage the interest of the private sector from a business point of view whilst also tapping into the business side to perform a social development function that is geared towards developing the potentials of the youth of the country. Well, we are on track to resolving this now. And I’m glad we are partners in this discovery”.
Mr. Dare added that with over 200 Million citizens made of a predominantly young population, sport offers a prospect for the Nigerian society to be galvanised. “It is the only national endeavor which every Nigerian supports without thought to tribal, ethnic, regional or political sentiments.”
The Minister further added that the intent was to move from concept to action with the signing the MOU. “It is one of the key pillars upon which everything else rests” he assured.
Mr. Dare highlighted what the MoU hopes to achieve to include; the establishment of the Nigeria Sports Industry Policy, which will eventually culminate in an Act of the National Assembly that will spell the rules and regulation on the playing field.
“As a Government, we believe that when we have and implement the right policies to drive social engagement and inclusion as well as economic development, the sports industry in Nigeria is capable of harnessing the economic power of the youth through engagement in sports”, he said.