From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, on Thursday, in Abuja, finally inaugurated a 16-man committee to draw up a 10-year football masterplan.
He also announced that the federal government, through the Sports Ministry and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) are on the same page regarding the development of football in Nigeria.
Members of the committee include; Ibrahim Galadima, Chairman, Yemi Idowu, Vice Chairman, Emmanuel Babayaro, Sunday Oliseh, Segun Odegbami, Ikeddy Isiguzo, Alhaja Ayo Omidiran, Augustine Ojiabor, Tobechukwu Okigbo, Ade Ojeikere, Mohammed Sanusi, Ogbuefi Tony Nnachetta, Muhammad Daha Umar Faruk, John Opubor, Dr Bode Durotoye, Secretary and Musa Amadu, as Assistant Secretary.
The Minister disclosed that the Ministry respects the decision of Adokie Amiesimaka, who was named in the committee, to opt out.
Reading a prepared speech during the inauguration of the Committee held at the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja, charged the committee to put in their best.
“I am relieved that this is happening today after two previous dates fixed for this event had to be cancelled. I apologise for that because I was informed that some members had even arrived in Abuja before the last cancellation. Please accept my apologies.
“This Committee is not an afterthought. It is the product of a directive from President Muhammadu Buhari. Every member was carefully selected and headhunted. You are all fit for purpose…the purpose of building an enduring structure for our football. I congratulate you all on your being appointed to serve the country in this capacity. I believe this committee will draw up recommendations and produce a document that will change the face of football in Nigeria forever.
“I do not need to bore you with how important this assignment is. You all are the football experts. Your contributions to the game as players, administrators, club owners, promoters, marketers, media and sponsors are well documented.
“Your experiences are crucial and your exposure to climes where football is working and making the right kind of impact will come in handy. The federal government is interested in the long term growth and development of football, the beautiful game, and is ready to begin to make the plans for a better tomorrow, today,” he said.
On the involvement of the NFF, he declared: “Those who are insinuating that the newly inaugurated Committee will work at cross purposes with the NFF are so far from the truth.
This committee is a Presidential assignment and the NFF are also working for the good of the game in Nigeria so we are on the same page.”
Enumerating the terms of references to the committee, the Sports Minister, said: “Without any iota of doubt, football is our number one sport. Nigerians love football. It is our strongest unifying tool, our national asset.
“However, in spite of all that it can provide, and the best efforts of its past and present actors and stakeholders, the game we all love is gasping for breath. We may be recording some successes here and there in erratic, incongruous patterns but the stark reality of our domestic football stares us in the face.
“Some of the immediate challenges we must overcome include: The inconsistent, irregular football calendar; Lack of professionalism in our club administration, a 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.
“If anything needs to be done at any time for the sake of our football, it is this Football Ten Year Development Masterplan. Therefore, this committee must, among others, develop the strategies that will address these areas: The roles of Government at all levels – Federal, State, Local as well as the private sector, development partners and social enterprise sector in the development of the game.
“The Football Pyramid and operational framework that will define the roles of educational institutions, football academies, clubs, leagues and national competitions in the development of the game and the projected financial requirements and targeted expenditure plans covering the different levels of the Football Pyramid.
“The commercialisation of football in line with global standards to include revenue generation for both the professional and non-professional game; incorporating the ancillary sectors of the economy,” he noted.