Within the short period of three years that the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, assumed the enormous duty of husbanding the gamut of sporting activities and youth development programmes in this greatly endowed nation, it is noteworthy and reflective that immense news worthy results have been achieved, to his credit.
Similarly, his emulation of international best practices, which is fondly called “the whiteman’s way” in its practicality and invention, has given him a remarkable name and firmly brought most of his ideas to historical references.
As it stands, Sunday Dare could be referred to as one of the reference points who has operated with glaring and redeemable ways of doing things and reaching a peak. Evidently, he stands tall among the former ministers and administrators of youth and sports that added value to sporting events, especially, in the lives of youths. As a tribute, it is noteworthy how he has calmed the divergent interest groups whose activities amounted to sabotaging the nation and her sporting and economic interests.
Peering down memory lane, the impact of the likes of Dr. Amos Adamu and Chief Dr. Patrick Ekeji of the defunct National Sports Commission continues to resonate in the lives of clerical staff whom they encouraged not only to further their education and embrace self development but made every needed resource and logistics available for them to actualise their dreams and be placed appropriately. Those empowered personnels eventually developed to sports professionals that took over the administration of the system at various levels. Among vibrant and educated administrators that would have effected professional changes in the system but was constrained because of time limit and politics, was Mr. Yakmut Al-Hassan.
Also, one of the past disciplined and enlightened former ministers, Bar. Gimba, is still memorable in the minds of staff that were privileged to serve and contribute dedicatedly during his regime. He was strongly against the marginalisation of his staff and insisted on rewarding them accordingly. In line with others that impacted lives, former permanent secretary of the ministry, Mr. Christain Chiaka Ohia, an accountant, identified and stopped fraudulent ways of defrauding government.
Most outstanding was the fact that he made it possible for staff to participate in both local and international sporting events. The present Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr Ismaila Abubarkar, also very new in the system, has exhibited togetherness in cordial team work with his staff.
In this laudable dispensation, Mr Dare’s emphasis is more on giving youths a reliable starting point as beginners. His “politics” is seen as a refined tool for encouraging armature brains. His tenure has undoubtedly provided better understanding and recognition of the youths and thus, through entrepreneurship and financial support, has encouraged aspiring CEO’s to believe in possibilities of their dreams. The Minister has also made it easy for them to be on the same discussion page with their representatives and principals.
Commendably, the Hon. Minister has refused to allow pride or self adulation to bring him and his projects down by not allowing irrelevant and questionable rhetorics that would deny our youths fairplay in the Delta State Sports Festival scheduled for November 2022. Both the Hon. Minister and Gov. Okowa of Delta State have unanimously shunned all negative distractions, particularly from the general public, that would have been portraying a negative perception of the Ministry and its Management. The intelligent leaders have indeed rubbished the colonial backwardness of persons whose main essence is to remain in the analogue age.
Part of the successes recorded in the Sport Ministry since 2019 is the ‘Adopt a Pitch Initiative’. This reflective project has attracted an eminent personality like Aliko Dangote to sign an Agreement with the Ministry in Dec, 2021 and to commit one million dollars to the rehabilitation of Chief Moshood Abiola Stadium facilities, maintain tough grass, install two score boards in both the football and athletics tracks, and maintain the artificial nurseries (grass) in the main bowl of the stadium for two years. Chief Adebute Kensington in a similar manner, has encouraged sporting activities by accepting to change the face and structures of the National Stadium Lagos. He is to add more athletics tracks and a score board as part of his renovation of the stadium. In addition to his selfless service, he has just concluded the renovation of Daura mini stadium in Katsina State where he converted the natural grass to artificial grass.
These are philanthropists that have extended their kind gesture to Nigerian youths through the Sports Ministry. The dynamic and good personal relationship of a transparent leader like Sunday Dare is being reckoned with by persons that will contribute to meaningful development in the sports sector that deserve to be commissioned.
Suffice it to note that this present administration of sports is not concerned with involving dubious contractors or personal companies of it’s leaders to the detriment of the Ministry’s finance but it is rather concerned with placing persons that deserve to be recognized in positions. The administration has maintained a higher tempo above the administration of a normal government expectation. Meanwhile, Mr Dare’s administration has also identified retired and professional Directors of Sport like Dr Ademola Are, Mrs Hauwa Kulu Akinyemi, Alhaji Abba Yola to be part of the enhancers of sports administration. Some retired Deputy Directors were also considered to mind some Sport Federations as Board Members.
Mr. Sunday Dare was quick to identify persons among the retirees that still have sound mind and capable of making valuable contributions that will maintain his tempo, add value to it’s programnes, x-ray the causes of numerous misunderstandings in the sector and proffer solutions, end the interminable tussles to become Federations Presidents, bad performance of athletes during championships and lack of cordial relationship between athletes and sports Management. Nigerian lovers of football are expressing their profound joy and enthusiasm over their request to have an experienced and indigenous professional as the Coach of the Super Eagles.
This Administration of Sports has no doubt supported and enhanced the clarion call request of our citizens whose majority is youths in different categories. The system has, through structured sporting activities, deeply infused in the mind of both youths and aspiring citizens to know that success is earned, and in a popular parlance “luck is when opportunity meets due preparation.”
Nwokorie is a Press Officer with the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development