For the first time in the history of Nigeria’s National Development Plan (NDP), Sports has been included as business with the plan to inject N88 billion into the nation’s sports development over a period of 4 years- 2021-2025.
The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved the NDP 2021-2025 to succeed the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020, which expires in December 2020.
The cabinet meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo approved the N348.7 trillion plan.
The NDP 2021-2025 also earmarked N60 billion for youth development focusing on building a robust MSME growth, entrepreneurship and overall human capital development now classified as under social development.
Under the approved NDP, Youth and Sports together have secured a N148 billion boost.
Recall that in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020, Sports was totally excluded and ended up with zero budget.
But the approval reclassifying sports as business by President Muhammadu Buhari last year after the presentation of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development to the Federal Executive Council was instrumental to bringing sports into the business category in the budgeting process.
Thus, the reclassification of sports as business and no more mere recreation paved the way for sports in the National Development Plan (NDP), hence the N88 billion earmarked for sports.
The second boost for this new budget is the efforts by the Ministry to deliver a National Sports Industry Policy (NSIP).
The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is now on the National Steering Committee of the NDP 2021-2025.
Meanwhile, the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) has appealed to the National Assembly to strongly consider the issues raised by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, at the defence of the 2022 budget and work closely with the Ministry to achieve the articulated targets for sports development in Nigeria.
SWAN President, Honour Sirawoo made the statement in reaction to the Minister’s budget defence at the National Assembly, pointing out that he was very honest and on point in his propositions.
“Sunday Dare was very honest in his presentation. Through the years, we have seen that the budget for sports has been too insufficient to truly drive development of the sector.
“We have often heard athletes complain about lack of funding to properly prepare and attend international events. There have also been issues with payment of entitlements. The bottom line is that the ministry doesn’t get the budget to meet various critical needs. There are over 40 sports disciplines for which the ministry is challenged to provide facilities, equipment, train and pay coaches, fund teams to attend international events.
“We cannot continue this way. Sports is a critical social sector and we must invest sufficiently in it if we are to realise its full benefits in employment, enterprise and attraction of private and foreign direct investments.
“Perhaps, the real solution will lie in the establishment of a National Sports Trust Fund that delivers sports from red tapes. This would be a function of well organised public and private sector collaboration. But before then, the government has to provide a lot more.
“The Minister also spoke on repositioning our local leagues. We have allowed the foreign leagues to take over our fans as well as our brands and corporate sponsors. It is not just a failing of sports federations and ministry alone. While there should be a re-engineering of structures and administration, we also need to grow the participatory capacity of complementary sectors like broadcasting, incentivisation brands and the corporate community.
“We are encouraged that the Minister is advocating a critical shift in approach to funding and organisation and all hands, from the executives to legislature to the corporate community, need to be on deck together towards achieving the desired end. We can make sports a major contributor to our economy but we have to invest more to set it up more effectively.”