By Jacob Ajom
The National Institute for Sports, located at the national stadium complex, Lagos and all the remaining sports federations still maintaining offices in Lagos will soon relocate to their permanent offices in Abuja, Vanguard Sports has learnt.
We gathered that the sweeping changes were not unconnected with the ministryâ€™s desire to further its commercialisation programme which would see more private sector participation in the management of sports facilities in the country.
After the relative successes recorded by some of the concessioned federations the ministry was encouraged to move a step further in the privatisation of its sports facilities nation-wide.
When the relocation is concluded, the NIS could be converted to a hotel while the federation offices could be converted to other uses by successful bidders.
Dr Patrick Ekeji who initiated the concessioning programme was said to be bent on seeing the private sector offer professional management of the facilities and making them money-spinning ventures for the sports ministry.
We further gathered that the first step would be massive upgrading of the existing sports facilities, including the NIS and the popular Games Village, located in Surulere. There will also be a deliberate intensification of the marketing strategy.
A top ministry official was quoted as saying that, when these facilities are eventually taken over by private hands, sports federations will be paying what he described as â€œa tokenâ€ for the use of the facilities. â€œIt is no longer going to be business as usual,â€ our source said.
Arguing further, the source said that the token is what the facility managers will be using to maintain the property and pay bills.