By Jacob Ajom
Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung yesterday came face to face with the rot, neglect and abandonment that surmised the derelict state of facilities under his commission, scattered all over Lagos.
The minister who began his facility tour from Sea School, Apapa drove into the famed Games Village in Surulere at exactly 12.02 pm with a retinue of aides that included the Director General of the National Sports Commission, Alhassan Yakmut, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Christian Ohaa, the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, directors, deputy directors, scores of journalists, among others.
A staff of the ministry was on hand to guide the minister round the expansive Games Village and what did the minister see? – an old, disused and abandoned facility which, if well maintained, could save the country a lot of funds and generate more to the federation account.
Although renovation work is ongoing, the minister was not satisfied with the pace of work which we later gathered was stopped because the ministry had considered concessioning the facility to private hands.
“I have been told stories about the abandonment of sports facilities in Lagos but I didn’t consider the situation as serious and embarrassing as I found out today. It is a sad story,” Dalung said at a post-tour briefing at the National Stadium. He pointed out that the movement of the seat of power to Abuja was not enough reason for the abandonment of facilities in Lagos or any other part of the country, for that matter. “The idea of concentrating on Abuja and neglecting other areas will not promote national unity, national cohesion and national development. We must take critical decisions on what to do with our facilities. They belong to all Nigerians.” The minister identified instability in the leadership of the supervisory ministry and the attitude of those who are supposed to take care of the facilities as reason for the poor state of the facilities.
“Lack of stable leadership in the ministry is a major cause. A situation where you find a minister lasting less than one year in office is not good enough for consistent policy implementation. Some of the decisions on facilities are so critical that cannot be reached in Six months,” he said, adding that poor maintenance culture in Nigerians was another factor.
The minister, however affirmed that as soon as he was back at his desk, and after due consultation with relevant officers, decisions affecting the facilities would be taken in no time.
He also called on corporate Nigeria to intervene in the development of sports in the country as government alone cannot develop sports. But he was aware of the lack of confidence among corporate bodies investing in sports.
“Lack of transparency in the management of resources by the various sports federations have done a lot of damage in that respect,” he said, adding, “I want to assure the corporate bodies that we will work together and ensure all that is changed. We are calling on them to invest in sports as government alone cannot do it.”