A member of the technical sub-committee of the Nigeria Football Federation and renowned football administrator, Austel Elumelu, has voiced his opinion on the recently concluded public hearing by the Senate committee on sports, on the decline of sports in Nigeria with a particular reference to football. In his opinion, “you cannot divorce sports from the entire general body polity. Sports being just an aspect of the activities of the nation is part of the country’s issues- of insecurity, corruption, lack of infrastructure, electricity, the economy etc. you find out that a lot of people have this erroneous impression that sports is the problem of the present operators of our policies but I want to differ from that stance. It is always said that the common failing of man is as a result of man’s inability to see a storm when the sea is calm. We had our glorious days and I want to challenge our past administrators in sports on the infrastructures they put in place to sustain the then existing glory. They should have operated our policies to have an institutionalized success rather than success based on personal vision driven programmes.”
Elumelu insists that the direct responsibility of sports development should be a function of government. “If you go through the policies on sports, you find out that in the revised policy on sports done in 2010, the responsibility of seeing to sports development goes to the National Sports Commission, State Governments and Local Government councils. They are to use a certain percentage for sports development but little or nothing has been done in this regard. The present operators are unfortunate because the spirit of decadence already sown is germinating in their time.
For Elumelu the panacea to all the rot is for the agencies in charge to retrace their steps and start implementing the policies that will kick start the rebuilding process. “We have to go back to the things not done right and start to invest through private sector activities. Government can only provide the enabling environment. If we go back to implement those policies through the different tiers of government, Nigeria will revitalize the system of catching them young like it used to be done those days and is still being done in developed countries. The problem is our over dependence of sports policies on the government budget.’’