Feature: Ten Years Football Development Plan; A Failure Without Legislation

The Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare on Thursday, November 11, 2021, inaugurated a 16-man committee to develop the football strategy that will enhance government roles at all levels – Federal, State, Local as well as the private sector in partners and social enterprise sector in the improvement of the game.

Photo: complete sports

The Committee is also saddled with the responsibility of putting an end to the inconsistent, irregular football calendar; lack of professionalism in Nigeria club administration, fall out
of the lack of enforcement of licensing and financial controls; and the inability to produce and sustain a conducive environment for private investors and funders.

Chief Sunday Dare with the 10-year Nigerian Football Development Masterplan Committee

This committee inauguration no doubts must be commended as this a pathway to turning the country into a great nation of football, going by the arrays of potential littered across the country-Nigeria is a blessed country when it comes to potential, but the proper development has been the bane of the fruitful outcome-hence the commendation for the inauguration.

Consequentially, it’s pertinent to look into what could be the possible outcome of this committee’s sojourn into structures across the world-searching for a befitting philosophy of football development. No doubt, the committee led by former Chairman of the Nigeria Football Association, Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima with members like Emmanuel Babayaro, Mr Sunday Oliseh, Chief Segun Odegbami,
Mr Ikeddy Isiguzo, Alhaja Ayo Omidiran, Mr Augustine Ojiabor, Mr Tobechukwu Okigbo, Mr Ade Ojeikere, Alhaji Mohammed Sanusi, Ogbuefi Tony Nnachetta, Alhaji Muhammad Daha Umar Faruk, Mr John Opubor, Dr Bode Durotoye Secretary, Mr Musa Amadu; no doubts comprise of men with history in the world of football development, though some appointments could still be questioned, that’s not the reason for this write-up.

Chairman Masterplan committee, Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima

Going forward, it must be well noted that the efforts of these individuals could go down the drain if something of importance is not attended to.

A quick pip into the previous Ministers’ tenure, plans and the outcome.

The bane of failure of various policy plans to set up previously have largely been poor implementation, policy collapse, development projects abandonment and government instability; these by all indices are constant banes of policies failures in the country.

Former Minister of Youths and Sports Development (2014-2015) Bolaji Abdullahi, Tamuno Danagogo

The abysmal 2012 Olympics outing necessitated the then president, his Excellency, Dr Goodluck Jonathan to set up a one-day retreat on Sports; a lot of ideas and a massive blueprint of sports development was bequeathed by stakeholders present. The well-applauded retreat could not execute numerous recommendations made before the President left the seat of power, a good, but poorly timed program.

The first to suffer at the change of hands at the helm of sports affairs when Mallam Abdullahi was substituted for Tammy Danagogo, was the Nigerian Academicals Sports Committee (NASCOM)-a supposed plan to champion youth developmental programme expected to lead the country to the podium in subsequent international competitions.

Minister of Youth and Sports Development (2011-2014), Bolaji Abdullahi

Next was the total absence of voluminous sports federations from international competitions, which were supposed to help the athletes evaluate their standards.

President Buhari came to power and appointed Barrister Solomon Dalung who, early in 2016, set up another ministerial committee to reform the sports sector. His interest had nothing to do with the handsome report from the Presidential retreat and others before it, rather his focus was how to make the private sector get more involved in funding sports.

Minister of Youths and Sports Development (2015-2019), Barrister Solomon Selcap Dalung

Government projects in the country, especially in sports have mostly been considered as failed movements and are not able to deliver or achieve the set objectives for which they are set up. All these can only be attributed to failure to legislate any developmental policies.

Now it’s the turn of Sunday Dare. As I earlier posited, this is going to be another failure of a plan or policy. Not because I do not trust the members of the committee, but because something more powerful than even the Minister will cut short the lifespan of this project.

Chief Sunday Dare, incumbent Minister of sports

While still gathering fitting words for this article, a bombshell was released, not by Boko Haram, this time around, a highly respected Adokiye Amasiemeka!

In a letter to the Minister of Sports, Chief Sunday Dare, dated 12th October 2021 with the title “RE: APPOINTMENT AS MEMBER OF THE COMMITTEE TO PRODUCE 10-YEAR FOOTBALL DEVELOPMENT MASTER PLAN”, Chief Amiesimaka posited that he won’t be taking up the committee, which he tagged based on a previous assignment which was yielded nothing, as a mere waste of his time and public funds.

The letter read: “I refer to your letter FMYSD/FEAD/NFF/CORR/014/VOL IV of 7th September 2021 and state without equivocation that beyond cliches and perfunctory responses, but consistent with my natural disposition, I always feel honoured to be considered worthy to serve my beloved country in any capacity. Thank you, Sir.”

“Nevertheless, it is apposite to recall that carefully thought through Reports on similar subjects by other committees, some of which I was privileged to serve on, were received with high commendation by the authorities, only to gather dust.”

Chief Adokiye Amiesimaka (Esq)

“Regrettably, there is no indication whatsoever that things will be any different this time around. Accordingly. I respectfully decline your kind offer, as to do otherwise would amount to a waste of my time and public funds.”

Masterplan committee member, Chief Segun Odegbami

Reactions followed and many Nigerians, including yours faithful, applauded Chief Amiesimaka’s rejection of the committee.

Chief Adokiye wouldn’t have rejected the call to serve his fatherland, but his decision to do that should send a big message to whom it may concern and to well-meaning Nigerians that until the right thing is worked on, there won’t be any meaningful change, safe for the jamboree.

The leviathan that has folded many ship blades and sank the previous ships of way forward in our sports is nothing but ABSENCE OF LEGISLATION. Without legislation, billions of naira will go down the drain with nothing to write home about.

The legislation will play the role of creating an understanding of the definition, exploring the different processes and types of policy and the challenges they face through institutional examples.

Just as his predecessors, Chief Sunday Dare should be fully aware and awake to the fact that without legislation, all his brilliant ideas will die a natural death at the stage of conception. Naturally, Chief Sunday, Dare will be vacating his office in less than 24 months and his return to the same position is at 10% off 100-meaning the next Minister of Sports, if at all there would be one will come up with his policy and plans, just like the incumbent himself, the implication, therefore, is that as it was at the beginning, which is now and will be forever, all his plans would be dusted off and a new life begins. Even to the presidency, it’s a known philosophy in Nigerian politics that projects are abandoned by new authorities, talk less of a department in a ministry.

Howbeit, the only thing that would not only make this plan last but successful, despite the calibre of personalities set up in this committee is legislation. Any policy legislated though might be reviewed, we know how uneasy it’s going to be in doing that and in the course of trying to review it, if at all it would, the giant steps the committee would have taken, using the legislation as a strong back up would convince any committee reviewing that to stop and focus on supporting it rather than destroying-boom, in ten years, Nigerians would smile again that out football will have an identity; this will not only favour football but the new beginning into taking sports in the country to the acme.

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