Supervising Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, on Monday in Abuja said government plans to re-position the National Institute for Sports (NIS) for Nigeria to enhance its sports development.
The minister who was speaking at the Ministerial Platform said the NIS had been established since 1972 but Nigeria has had no outstanding sports development profile to show for it.
``If we must be taken seriously as a sporting country, we must do something about the NIS. We must re-position it as the centre of excellence for the promotion and development of sports in Nigeria.
``Unless we do that, we will continue to do a patchwork of three months’ preparation ahead of international competitions, hoping that a miracle will happen,’’ he said.
Abdullahi said the situation was what led to his not being sure of the number of medals Nigeria would win at the 2012 Olympic Games.
``Though it is only a competition, but I cannot stand and say this is the number of medals we will win. But I can only speak about the efforts we have made and the efforts we are still making.
``I believe that these efforts should be good enough to ensure that we have a very good outing at the Olympics,’’ he said.
The minister also noted that the NSC was not happy that Nigeria was not featuring in football at the Olympics, but he said it had served as an opportunity to improve other sports.
``Everyone has lamented the fact that Nigerian football is not going to the Olympics in 2012. We at the commission are not happy, but it gives us ample opportunity to focus on other sports.
``Though we don’t need to diminish football to improve the fortunes of other sports, but it’s possible to carry them together and as a ministry we are not going to be jack of all trade.
``As a country we can’t just afford to take all the sports, we don’t have the resources or the capacity.
``We’re going to specialise and support the sports that have the best strategic initiatives,’’ Abdullahi who is also the Chairman of the National Sports Commission (NSC) said.
The minister also spoke about the achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in the last one year, reeling off a long list of successes.
He noted specifically the restoration of peace in the Nigerian football family, as well as according high premium to athletes’ welfare.
Abdullahi however listed inadequate funding and sponsorship and lack of suitable environment as some of the challenges faced.
He said the NSC was nonetheless looking forward to re-positioning the Nigerian Premier League, saying ``Nigerian football will continue to decline if we don’t do this.
``We must do the hard work. We must go back to the drawing board and pursue a systematic development of talents,’’ the minister said.
On how to revamp Nigerian sports, Abdullahi said the NSC also needed to increase private sector participation in sports, concession sports facilities and ensure proper growth of sports for the disabled.
The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, in his opening remarks at the occasion, said the platform was designed to enable Nigerians interact with ministers on the progress made in their ministries.
``This is a collaborative activity in which all the MDAs present the progress they have made in the last year and answer questions on their stewardship.
``Ministers and public officers have resolved to account for everything they are doing on behalf of Nigerians.
``It is a progress report, and it is the first time something like this is happening in this country, where the President will ask his people to go and give account of what they have done,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the programme is in commemoration of the 2012 National Democracy Day and the first anniversary of the Jonathan administration.