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Call For National Sports Commission

By Ikeddy Isiguzo
THE National Sports Commission, NSC, as constituted today, is an illegal body.

Olusegun Obasanjo, then President, created the illegality on the eve of his departure from office. The excuse was that government was trimming the number of Ministries.

Government failed to create the NSC by law. The NSC came into existence through a presidential utterance. The National Assembly, on its part, has been approving budgets for an illegal body since 2007.

Sometimes the money is appropriated for the Ministry of Sports at other times it is for the NSC. The illegality continues, denying Nigerian sports a chance of better organisation.

Some weigh into debates about the NSC without a grounding on what the NSC should do for sports.

The NSC is meant to be a professional (technical) parastatal of the Ministry of Sports. The concept was that sports professionals would run it. Its board had a tenure and a Director (General) headed it, he was the Chief Executive Officer.

Recent knowledge about the resources that pass through sports has produced layers of interests that want to be beneficiaries of those resources it does not matter to them if their interests kill sports development.

Interestingly, some of these interests have been around sports long enough to claim professional knowledge of sports. Their true colours show with a scrutiny of their record of service to sports.

Two years ago, the House of Representatives sports Committee held a public hearing on the NSC. The thrust of the elaborate event was an executive bill on the NSC.

Most of those who should have a say in sports attended. I remember that Dr. Awoture Eleyae, former Nigerian athletics and basketball captain, former acting Director of the NSC, former Principal of the National Institute for Sports, former Director of Sports ( Bendel State ), former Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa attended.

So did Col. Maharajah Mamud, former Executive Secretary of the NSC, for Head of Military Sports. The issues were robustly contested.

It ended inconclusively. The then Sports Minister Abdulrahman Hassan Gimba, a lawyer, was at his disruptive best. He arrived the National Assembly with a bill different from the one being discussed.

The confusion this brought scuttled the public hearing. The House Committee told Mr. Gimba to ask the Presidency to send another bill if he was uncomfortable with the one the National Assembly had.

Mr. Gimba wanted changes in some provisions of the bill. It amounted to sending a new bill to the House. The Sports Committee explained to him that it was not its duty to receive bills from the Executive.

The procedure for sending bills to the National Assembly from the Executive is that the bill goes to the leaders of the two chambers of the National Assembly who send it to the appropriate Committees.

If the Executive wanted amendments to its bill, the Committee told Mr. Gimba, it had to follow the same procedure. Mr. Gimba would not hear of it and the session turned rowdy as Mr. Gimba insisted on being heard.

Major contentions in the bill are the composition of the board of the NSC and its headship. The self_serving interests in sports want the composition if the NSC board to reflect their interests.

I did not hear anything about the NSC bill again until last Friday when a colleague told me there was another public hearing on the bill.

Two days earlier, I got a call from a member of the House of Representatives Sports Committee asking if I was in Abuja . Apparently, the Committee was deliberating on the bill.

The importance of the NSC is such that we cannot resort to secrecy on the bill that would give it life. A lack of understanding of the functions of the NSC informs the hesitations about running sports professionally as was the case when the NSC was a legally constituted body.

Next Week No Minister As NSC Board Chairman

If You Want Bolt
WHERE the authorities are interested in sports, they go the extra mile to provide for sports. The British have done just that. Our brother Usain Bolt, said he would not run in London next month, citing high taxes.

The British government is giving him a waiver, London wants Bolt so badly and is willing to stretch a little backwards. What would Bolt’s appearance in London do for the British economy? A lot more than some pounds taken off his earning as tax, but if you know how these things work, the sponsors would pay the tax, if it becomes the issue.

I wish we can pay sports some attention, especially to ensure that its linkages with youth, education, health, job creation and human development can help us produce better and more fulfilled Nigerians.

Thanks Lagos SWAN
LAST Friday the Lagos State Chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN, organised a round table on the state of sports in Nigeria .

Expectedly, attendance reflected the low interests in discourses about improving sports. Football dominated, again expected after the World Cup debacle.

SWAN wants to make the event a weekly activity to keep drawing attention to the poor ways sports is run. I am happy that the initiative came from the media vastly blamed for the state of sports.

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