The federal government says it is determined to continue with its current drive to sanitize the sports sector to make it more viable and credible to investors.
In his New Year message, the Minister of Youth and Sports Barrister Solomon Dalung said that the sports sector recorded successes in 2016 which could be improved upon in the new year with measures put in place to ensure transparency in sports.
“In 2016, we recorded achievements in the Olympics and Paralympic Games. We have also improved in our football and basketball rankings by FIFA and FIBA.
“With Federal Government’s timely financial intervention, the Super Eagles have been able to start their World Cup campaign on a very strong footing with two victories recorded so far after two games. We must also thank his Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari for paying special attention to the Super Eagles and Super Falcons despite the current economic situation following the recent payment of all outstanding allowances and bonuses.
“We hosted and discovered new talents from the recently held National Youth Games in Ilorin, Kwara state despite paucity of funds but these could be improved upon with an increased budgetary allocation for sports in 2017.”
The Minister noted that despite the successes recorded by football recently, it is unfortunate that the audit report in which the NFF was indicted by FIFA is trying to dent the image of Nigeria and football in general.
“The policy direction of the Ministry is that we will stop at nothing to preserve the image of Nigeria. Nigerians should also know the determination of government on issues of accountability, especially the FIFA audit report, to unravel all issues surrounding the report and all other monies associated with such practices which could bring the image of the country and Nigeria’s sports to disrepute”.
Barrister Dalung said that some of the challenges of sports in 2016 had to do with funding, sponsorship, transparency and accountability and called on all sports federations to submit their programs for 2017 within the first week of the year to allow for proper planning.
“All federations including the NFF should avail the Ministry of their programs for the year to enable the government to plan and scrutinize for intervention appropriately. Failing to do so on time will mean forfeiting contingent arrangements for those programs and federations should not fall back to blackmail the government.
” In the New Year, we are looking at sports with high hopes. We are hopeful that the potentials in sports will be unbundled for the benefit of the teeming youths we have in Nigeria. All hands must be on deck to achieve this while wishing Nigerians a prosperous New Year.” Dalung said.