Former Minister of Sports and Social Development, Saidu Samaila Sambawa, has urged the Federal Government to invest more in sports to curb youth restiveness and unemployment.
Sambawa while speaking from his base in USA, noted that the current Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, has the wherewithal to drive the industry to greater heights in the country.
“I am a big fan of Sunday Dare and I have done my little from afar, to support his success story. I like the way he started and I am happy with every step he has taken so far. If not for the ten athletes that were disqualified during the Games [Tokyo 2020], I was very confident that Team Nigeria would have won at least five medals at the Tokyo Olympics.
“Despite the setbacks, I want to commend the athletes and the ministry for rising to the challenge and returning home with a silver and a bronze medal from Tokyo. That is our best achievement in a long while.
“I will also like to use this opportunity to appeal to the Federal Government to give more funds to the ministry as sports has so much potentials to tap from as a country. I am not disappointed that D’Tigers and D’Tigress exited the games without a medal. The reason is that, I followed their preparation all through and I am very encouraged by the fact that we have so many young boys and girls in these teams that will form the nucleus of our future exploits at the Olympics.
“If the Federal Government can put 10 per cent of what they invest in security in sports development, in five years, millions of Nigerian youths will be taken off the streets and be meaningfully engaged and billions of dollars will be coming as remittances from Nigerian talents scattered abroad,” Sambawa said.
The Kebbi State-born Sambawa charts a way forward for Nigerian sports.
“For a start, I will want the Federal Government to build a minimum of six zonal National Institute for Sports, NIS, that is in the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. Add these to the NIS in Abuja, the FCT, Nigeria will have seven fully equipped sports institutes.
“These institutes will train Nigerian youths in all sports based on what each can offer. The best of the best will move to Abuja. Each of these zonal Institutes will be linked to the one in Abuja from where all the talents will be harnessed.
“Australia and many other Countries did this after poor outings at the Olympics. That way, the ministry will have a platform to discover hidden talents from the regions.
“Secondly, there is the need for Nigeria as a country to invest more in individual sports. Sports where we have comparative advantage. These individual sports can give us medals at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games than the team sports.
“The likes of Great Britain, Canada and USA are winning lots of medals from swimming, athletics, gymnastics, weightlifting, wrestling, boxing, judo, tennis. These are sports that produce more medals at major competitions.”