Typically, the appointment of every sports minister generates interest from the top to the bottom echelon of our society. The appointment of Senator John Enoh who became the country’s 36th Sports Minister since independence in 1960 undoubtedly resonates with some people, but also follows the old pattern of appointments based on political patronage, ethnic balancing and gerrymandering.
The age long joke on the sports sector is that because the Ministry begins with letter S, it will come last in descending order of priority after all others would have been allotted juicy portfolios. The argument is often taken further that you don’t need a serious professional training or sports background to administer Sports.
While successful Ministers had displayed uncommon vision in steering the affairs of this volatile sector, others had left the place worse than they met it. While Ministers like Major General Henry Adefope, a Medical Doctor, Alhaji Buba Ahmed, Air Commodore Samson Emeka Omeruah, Group Captain Anthony Ikhazobor, Engineer Ishaya Mark Aku, Bolaji Abdullahi among others dispelled the erroneous impression that the Ministry was ungovernable by bequeathing enduring legacies, others just had a walk on the rock.
While you may not necessarily need a PHD or Professorship in Sports administration to succeed, deep understanding of the peculiarities of the sports sector, native intelligence, ability to dispense justice, fairness and modicum of human relationship are required to navigate the ever changing world of sports.
The new Minister will have to adapt quickly as the terrain is quite different from business as usual, Board room or partisan politics or farm management. The sports sector has the largest crop of experts who have failed to proffer solutions to our long years of systematic failure in doing simple things as paying athletes allowance, procurement of the kits and equipment for competition or payment of accommodation and feeding allowances.
The new Minister will soon discover that management of this sector is not only tedious, but can get confusing and lead to high blood pressure. Like the power sector, aviation, education, foreign market, labour, Revenue Service and other problematic sectors with hydra headed demons that have the country down, the sports sector is made up of the good, the bad and the ugly.
He will be confronted with powers and principalities that are entrenched in the Ministry, Associations, Federations, media and sit tight International bodies. They will threaten him with the weapon of International ban if he tinkers with fundamental changes, they will juggle facts, create confusion in his mind, offer him juicy packages and blindfold him from beholding certain buried corpses and ailing elements.