The House of Representatives has begun moves to took reposition the country’s sports sector. Yesterday, the House Committee on Sports commenced a public hearing on three sports bills to ensure adequate funding of the sector.
One of the bills seeks to repeal the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) Act, which would be replaced by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Act that would provide for the administration of the country’s football.
The second bill seeks to establish the Nigerian Sport Anti-Doping Agency, which would be responsible for all anti-doping activities as enshrined in the World Anti-Doping Code.
The sponsor of the anti-doping Bill, Mr. Douye Diri (Bayelsa-PDP) assured that it was aimed at boosting public confidence in Nigerian sports sector.
He posited that it would also provide Nigerian athletes the opportunity to compete clean in their various fields.
The agency, he added, would educate Nigerian athletes to on their roles and responsibilities at major global
“To partner with sport governing bodies to deliver clean sport, catch anyone, whether athlete or athlete support personnel, breaking the rules and implement penalties as prescribed by relevant legislation.
“Encourage the reporting of wrongdoing, acting upon that information and protecting those individuals who report wrongdoing,” he said.
The second bill, which seeks to provide for the administration and management of sports in Nigeria, including sport institutions and facilities, is also meant to harness sports for development and to encourage, and promote drug-free sport and recreation in Nigeria.
Mr. Abubakar Amuda-Kannike (Kwara-APC), who is the initiator of the sporting development fund, explained that it was aimed at ensuring corporate registered firms contribute more to the development of the sector.
He expressed optimism that the Nigeria Sports Development Fund will address the problems associated with the non-payment of national team coaches and technical advisers, as well as reduce government interference in sport administration.
Amuda-Kannike said the bill would also give legal backing to the existing National Sports Commission (NSC) and reduce the seeming conflict between the commission and the minister.
Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, represented by Yakubu Barde (Kaduna-PDP), who declared the hearing open, remarked that the National Assembly would not tolerate any activity that would have adverse effect on the development of sports in Nigeria.
He also called for more focus on harnessing the business potential of sports in Nigeria to boost the economy and develop the sector to global standards.
Dogara also expressed hope that the three bills would improve administration and management of the sector, establish institutions and agencies that will enable it realise its full potential and capacity.
Calling on stakeholders to make meaningful contributions that would enrich the proposed laws, he noted: “These Bills represent elements of change required to reposition the Nigerian Sports sector. To state that the sector has been on a steady downslide is stating the obvious.
“Hence, to concretise strategy on effective administration and management of the industry, as well as establish institutions and agencies to enable it realise its full potential and capacity is most timely for the sanctity of the sector and integrity of Nigeria in the comity of nations.
“The sports industry is one of the critical sectors of the economy. Over the years, sport has become a global economic and business undertaking; the need to get serious in this context cannot be over-emphasised.
“Most importantly, the sector represents a safe haven for the youths, where they are, in most cases, recognised nationally and internationally.
“Most importantly, perhaps, is the reality that sport has remained one of the greatest unifying factors to Nigeria as a nation for which we all are indebted.
“The cardinal aim of the third Bill, to establish Nigerian Sports anti-doping agency devoid of internal or external interference, is very crucial, particularly to comply with the express requirements of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Nigeria being a signatory.
“Also, the Bill will not only create awareness among athletes but restore the integrity and confidence in sporting activities.’’