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Challenges Before New Sports Minister, Enoh

The sport scene is an unusual one in which everybody on the street believes he can talk about happenings in the sector. The happening in sport come with passion and emotion such that people react in different ways and at the end of the day, each person has a solution even without being a confirmed expert in the sport discipline. That sport is a unifying factor in Nigeria today is no news.

No matter the tension in the land, when an event is ongoing, attention shifts to the event especially when it is a continental or global event. This time, tribe, religion and all mean nothing but the green white green colour of the country. And so, anyone that is the head of the sector in the country is going to have his hands full. This is not new. The Nigerian Sports Minister is a personality that is almost always in public glare such that he competes with the president for national attention. Every Sports Minister is in the eye of the storm in Nigeria.

The appointment of John Enoh recently did not come as a surprise. Here is a sector in which any politician can be posted to come and steer the sheep of the sports sector. After appointment, they start to learn the ropes to be able to cope with the pressure and to understand the sector.

I recall that Jim Nwobodo told the world that he engaged some ‘wise men’ to put him through after his appointment as a sports minister. I also recall that a former minister saw athletics legend Falilat Ogunkoya and addressed her as a weight lifter. Enoh is coming in unknown. No track records in the industry and he is to administer sports. He is not the first; as a matter of fact, the list of unknown personalities being posted to the sector is endless. The new minister is an accomplished farmer.

How he can use his skills in his area of competence to administer sports is another issue entirely but it is only appropriate to give him a chance and see what he has up his sleeves. In his opening remarks after inauguration, Enoh said he never lobbied for the position and one wonders why he had to say that in a society where appointments come mostly based on trust and relationship with the powers that be. Enoh was wise by paying a visit to the former minister, Sunday Dare, just on the eve of his inauguration.

Dare did well under the last administration and I expect the new minister to tap into his knowledge to enable him to settle in well in office. He already visited the Abuja National Stadium on Wednesday and he is expected to visit the National Stadium next week. Work has started but is crucial for the new minister to look into how best to tackle the problem of funding in the sector.

Government budget is grossly inadequate and he must be ready to woo the private sector to boost various activities in his regime. Other sport federations cry out over neglect because some of them cannot even attend some important competitions because government will say no money.

Enoh will also have to encourage the federations to embrace sponsor to assist in their programmes especially grassroots and schools programmes to identify the future stars and greater tomorrows. Various issues in the federation ranging from poor financing and in fighting should be sorted by the new ‘Games Master’ of the federation because these problems have affected results posted by Nigeria in the past.

He also has to look into welfare of athletes generally in the country. No doubt, he will struggle not to follow football more than other sports because it is the number one sport in the country. The current board of the Nigeria Football Federation is rather ‘slow and tactless’ and the new minister must charge the Ibrahim Gusau-led body to wake up just as the continuous stay of the foreign coaches of the Super Eagles and Super Falcons should be evaluated.

Also, facilities upgrade and training/re-training of coaches must be looked into. Enoh is inheriting the age long problem of the abandoned National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos. Dare started the revival by fixing three components -Tartan tracks, scoreboard and the pitch – through private sector. It is expected that the new minister should also look into other areas in an attempt to fully revive the national edifice.

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