THE Minister for Youths and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, has described Ilaji Hotels and Sports Resort as a perfect model for the development of sports in Nigeria.
Mr Dare stated this while inspecting sporting facilities at the resort on Saturday in Ibadan, Oyo State.
According to the minister, who also attended a retreat organised by the South West Group of Online Publishers (SWEGOP) held at the Conference Center of Ilaji Resort, there has been a gradual shift from the perception that sport is mainly a tool of entertainment to a business-oriented one.
He said that for sports to fully develop in Nigeria the way it is in the advance countries of the world, there is the need to develop the business aspect of it.
He added that his office, in conjunction with the Sports Ministry, had been working on a policy that would cause the government to see sport as a sector that could bring about economic profits for the nation.
“For a while now, I have been working along with the Sports Ministry on a policy which will see us developing the business model for sports development in Nigeria because that is the only way sports can be fully maintained and developed.
“But to my surprise, on getting to this place, Ilaji Hotels and Sports Resort, what I saw on the ground is the exact model we have been developing for government.
“I must therefore laud the brain behind this fantastic place, in person of Chief Dotun Sanusi, for establishing a model for sports development in Nigeria,” the minister said.
He maintained that the only way sports could fully develop was to establish a new sports system that would support athletes, improve the country’s Gross Domestic Product and improve its economy.
“To implement this policy, there would be three i’s and one p, where the three ‘i’s’ stand for infrastructure, incentive and investment, while the ‘p’ stands for profit. To make the policy work, there has to be infrastructural development while incentive will be given to the likes of Chief Dotun Sanusi’s company in form of tax relief and soft bank loans with very low interest rates.
“Of course, by doing this, we would have been able to attract investment from people like Ilaji Resort boss in form of partnership. When all the aforementioned have been done, profit will definitely follow.
“In the United Kingdom, for instance, they have a sports policy that has given rise to an investment to the tune of 38 billion pounds while Nigeria has a meagre N350 million worth of investment,” he noted.
The chairman of Ilaji Hotels and Sports Resort, Chief Sanusi, aligned with the position of the minister, emphasising that with good organisation and availability of proper structures, sport is a money-spinning investment.
He assured the minister that “we are ready for any form of partnership that will bring about the development of sports in Nigeria.”
Chief Sanusi said: “With the facilities we have been able to put in place here at Ilaji Hotels and Sports Resort, we have the capacity to host any of the national football teams or athletes prior to any competition.”
He urged the online journalists to put integrity first in everything they do, saying that they should be builders of Nigeria and not destroyers of it.
“I want to implore all journalists present to contribute your quotas to the development of Nigeria and to support the laudable programme the honourable minister has highlighted,” he said.