The list of ministers has been sent to the Senate and the screening is ongoing, and all things been equal, the supervising ministers of the various ministries will be known next week.
One ministry that is very important to millions of sports-loving Nigerians is the Sports ministry and this piece is to ask President Muhammadu Buhari to effect a change of nomenclature.
In societies where there is a cogent understanding of development and where these are correctly recognised and sanctioned, the strong develops the weak. But the opposite is the case for Nigeria, as it is in almost all areas – here we do the converse; the strong feed on the poor!
Sorry for all the rigmarole, the matter is that football in Nigeria is the king and Queen of sports and unfortunately the other sports are not even the subjects, they are the labourers.
In the 2015 fiscal year, the Federal Government budgeted N6.65billion for sports but the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), which is supposed to be a tributary of the National Sports Commission (NSC) got a direct subvention of N1.24billion [18.7 per cent of total] and the Nigeria Institute for Sports (NIS) got N475.5million [7.1per cent].
For those who do not know, the NIS is supposed to be the think-tank for sports policies in the land.
Now, football is just one of the 26 recognised sporting activities the NSC administers. Yet it takes approximately 74.2 per cent of the funds allocated to the sport ministry. In essence, the 25 sports individually have 3.13 per cent to use to develop and administer their genres for the whole year.
That is N214,795,000 – approximately $976,340 and some of these federations have to employ foreign technical advisers or coaches just like the Basketball federation did on their way to winning the Afrobasket Championship for the first time in August!
The NSC and other sports The other sports in the NSC’s stable include: Athletics, Badminton, Scrabble, Basketball, Boxing, Judo, Chess, Wheel-Chair Basketball, Cricket, Wheel-Chair Tennis, Cycling, Darts, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Football, Tennis, Golf, Gymnastics, Weightlifting, Handball, Wrestling, Karate, Volleyball, Kung-Fu and Squash Racket.
We also have Para-Swimming, Amputee Football, Para-Soccer, Para-Athletics, Para-Table Tennis, Para-Powerlifting, Shooting, Sitting Volleyball, Deaf Sports, Fives, Traditional Sports, Rowing, Rugby and Kick-Boxing.
The functions of the National Sports Commission (NSC), amongst many others, are:
– To promote, in cooperation with other sports bodies or sports groups, the physical fitness and general well being of all persons in Nigeria.
-To organize, or assist financially, or otherwise, the participation in sports at inter-state, national and international levels.
That is the supposed to be the itinerary of the supreme sports body in the land although the budgeting and the size of the slice of the pie shows the sport that really reigns supreme.
And to buttress the fact that not all fingers are equal, a valid question was raised during the Afrobasket tournament when the players were said to have been given $4000 in total for the Afrobasket. And at the just concluded All Africa Games, athletes were paid about $100 as daily camp allowance while the Super Eagles collect $10,000 for a win and as much as $5,000 for playing in a friendly game.
Comparing that amount with what other athletes from other sports cadres haul in, then you begin to understand the disparity that currently exists between football and the other sports.
For a long time, it has been debated whether the football house should stand on its own but no lucid conclusion has been given for the arguments for and against.
The recent hefty N1.24billion earned by the NFF subvention is just a part of the monies earned by the Federation. It is fed by FIFA for every tournament in which it takes part.
Most of the travel expenses for the teams is borne by FIFA. Also, football is the only sports in Nigeria that has corporate sponsors, being backed by Globacom, Nike, Brila FM, Guinness, Emzor, Super Sport, IGI, Malta Guinness and Peak Milk.
The total sum that accrues to the football house could not be officially ascertained as at the time of this publication. The local league, the Nigeria Professional Football League, is also sponsored by Globacom – and apart from the male and female basketball leagues that have sponsors, most of the other sports enjoy no corporate backing.
So as President Muhammadu Buhari seeks to name ministers, we are asking that the erstwhile Ministry of Sports should be renamed Ministry of Football and Other Sports. That way, there will be no misconceptions on where the bulk of the money for sports goes.