The minister of youth and sports development, Mr Sunday Dare, has identified government ownership of football clubs and lack of professionalism as factors that have kept Nigeria’s domestic football in stagnation.
The Minister stated while defending his Ministry’s budget estimate for 2022 before the House of Representatives Committee on sports development at the lower chamber of the National Assembly on Monday.
Besides MFM, Ifeanyiubah and the newly promoted side, Remo Stars, all other NPFL clubs are owned by the state government and this is contrary to the FIFA statutes which frown at government involvement in football.
Dare called for all hands to be on desk if Nigerians desire for change, saying the situation where state governments owned almost all the clubs in Nigeria’s football leagues with little or no facilities was not good enough for the league’s development.
“We all have to get involved and even get some legislation to back us up before we can begin to see changes. The structure of our clubs needs to change if we want to see fans fill up the stands at our stadiums to watch our domestic games. Most of our clubs are government owned and professionalism is not a priority.
“There are little or no facilities, the welfare package for players in most clubs is not encouraging, club licensing regulations are not enforced. All these things have kept our domestic football in the doldrums,” Dare said.
Going forward, he charged the Nigeria Football federation (NFF) to ensure strict adherence to the club licensing regulations.
“From 2022, we will ensure that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) who have oversight responsibilities over the League Management Company (LMC) are able to ensure stricter adherence to the club licensing regulations, even if we will end up having only six clubs meeting the standard,” the Minister stated.
He also urged the lawmakers to help the country overcome funding constraints as it prepares to organize and participate in several domestic and international competitions in 2022.
“Without mincing words, participation in national, continental and International competitions which have brought much glory and goodwill to the country is capital intensive. The reality is that the Ministry has been greatly challenged in prosecuting these activities owing to its very slim overhead.
“The financial requirements of our forty-two national sports federations as submitted by them cannot be completely accommodated within the overhead budget envelope of the Ministry.
“The activities of these federations are instrumental to our participation in International sporting events. These huge financial requirements further underscore the need to accord the Ministry enhanced funding,” Dare said.