President Muhammadu Buhari has described the governance structure of the Nigerian football league, saying standards are conveniently compromised.
The President also said his administration will resist any attempt to undermine the development of football in the country, noting that it remained the number one sport in Nigeria and a national asset.
Buhari said this on Tuesday while receiving the 10-year Football Development Masterplan submitted by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Chief Sunday Dare.
Buhari, who described football as ”our passion and a major tool for unity”, said it was the responsibility of government to safeguard the sport which had brought Nigeria many laurels.
The President, who demanded a higher standard of patriotism, responsibility and commitment from those charged with the administration of football in Nigeria, urged all stakeholders to work together constructively and patriotically.
”We have seen attempts to disrespect and undermine the institutions supervising our sports. We have seen attempts to subjugate national interest for narrow interest or disrespect the laws of Nigeria. Nigeria will not take lightly any attempt to inflict injury on its football fortunes,’’ he said in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina.
President Buhari, who spelt out his expectations from the two-volume report, directed the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to commence its implementation in phases, within the fine lines of relevant sections of the Nigerian laws on sports development and the statutes of the world soccer governing body, FIFA.
He expressed happiness that the Nigeria Football 10-Year Masterplan (2022-2032) identified 15 key areas of challenge and provided practical recommendations to address these fundamental problems that had bedeviled football development in the country.
”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.
”Achieving this will guarantee desired progress in continental and international competitions….
”The Nigeria Football Federation, the body charged with the development of our football is directed to own and commence the implementation of this masterplan under the supervision of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.”
Reviewing the state of the round leather game in the country, President Buhari expressed concern that in the past years, football development had gradually stunted due to the neglect of the core orientation of football administration.
He described the governance structure around Nigeria’s domestic league as weak, adding that standards were conveniently compromised.
He, however, expressed delight that these issues and many more had been addressed in the document.
The President, therefore, urged the NFF to salvage the domestic league at all levels.
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.
In his remarks, the Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, 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, who lauded the president for the attention to football development in the country and laying a solid foundation for the growth of the game, described the 10-year masterplan, which took the Ibrahim Galadima-led 16-member committee six months to prepare, as ”a world class document.”
He said 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 it amongst the best in the world.
He 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.
The minister said, ”’Mr. President, with your approval, this document will be presented to the Federal Executive Council for approval and future funding, so that the implementation of the short, medium and long term plans can commence as part of the legacies of this administration.
”Thereafter, this document will be handed over to our football administrators, that is the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, who shall be expected to implement key elements of these reports in stages.”
Galadima, a former Chairman of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA), noted that re-engineering the legal framework will put to rest the legality of NFF.