President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration will resist any attempts to undermine the development of soccer in the country.
He said that football remains the foremost sports activity and a national asset in the country.
The President stated this in Abuja while receiving the 10-year Football Development Masterplan submitted by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare.
He described football as citizens’ passion and a major tool for unity and affirmed that it was the responsibility of government to safeguard sports which has brought Nigeria many laurels.
“Indeed, just as I expect and demand a higher standard of patriotism, responsibility and commitment from those charged with the administration of our football, I also urge all stakeholders to work together constructively and patriotically” The President noted.
President’s directive on implementation
The President directed the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, to commence its implementation in phases, within the confine of relevant sections of the Nigerian laws on sports development and the statutes of the world soccer governing body, FIFA.
”This government is interested in developing a football culture that will accommodate global best practices that will also help the nation to lay a solid foundation for her domestic football, put in place professionally and efficiently run leagues, entrench a consistent and stable football calendar and create a value chain which will boost the sports ecosystem” President Buhari stated.
I know that a lot of work went into putting this 10-Year Masterplan together. I received regular briefings on the work being done and I am happy that our goal has been achieved. I am happy that the Masterplan enjoyed the inputs of a wide range of stakeholders in football.
”I am equally happy that the Nigeria Football 10-Year Masterplan (2022-2032) identified Fifteen (15) Key Areas of challenge and provided practical recommendations to address these fundamental problems that have bedevilled football development in the country the implementation of the short term and medium term plans should commence”
He described the governance structure around Nigeria’s domestic league as weak, adding that standards are conveniently compromised.
He, however, expressed delight that those issues and many more had been addressed in the Document.
Task before NFF
The President therefore, urged the NFF to salvage the domestic league at all levels, saying that Nigeria’s football development must return to the path of focus on grassroots and youth development, and an overall good governance structure around every level of its development.
On the forthcoming NFF executive election, President Buhari reiterated his earlier communication to the body on the need for a more equitable and democratic representation in the Congress of the NFF.
According to him, this will ensure that critical stakeholders are not shut out and the most capable and competent men and women are elected to run the affairs of the Federation.
”I thank FIFA for its support and commitment to the development of Nigerian football which has been longstanding. I trust it will partner with Nigeria in its effort to improve the fundamentals of its football development.”
Disbursement of over 15billion
The Sports Minister, Mr Sunday Dare, had announced that the Buhari administration had disbursed over N15 billion to NFF through budgetary appropriations and presidential interventions in the last seven years.
The Minister lauded President for support to football development in the country and laying a solid foundation for the growth of the game.
The Minister described the 10-year Masterplan, which took the Ibrahim Galadima-led 16-member Committee six months to prepare, as a world-class document.
The Minister explained that the prescriptions set forth in the Football Masterplan, if followed through with the needed will and determination, would set Nigeria’s football on a very sure footing and position among the best in the world.
Mr Dare added that the implementation of the Plan would resolve most issues around the status of the domestication of Nigerian laws, NFF Statutes in line with FIFA Statutes and create room for harmonious relationships in the football value chain of this country.
Writing by Abdullah Bello; editing Hadiza Abdulrahman