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Has sports development suffered setback in the National Assembly?

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Very soon, the Life of this National Assembly will come to an end. Consequently, time is ripe to assess its performance in all areas of its works as an arm of Government. It is conceivable that concerned stakeholders would be looking at the National Assembly from different angles.

In this case, my concern is in the area of sports. Hence, the main question would be, to what extent has the National Assembly carried out its role in sports development between 2007 and 2011? Has sports development suffered setback in the National Assembly? Did this body rise up to the challenge of sports development in Nigeria as envisioned by vision 20; 20; 20? These are the perspectives from which its role in sports development would be assessed.

The role of the National Assembly in sports development is very critical to Nigeria’s attainment of its policy objectives in the sector. We can look at some of these areas.

1.Appropriation.
The National Assembly is in charge of passing the national budget into law and ensures that allocation are in tandem with expected functions during the financial year. In the area of sports, there are indications that the National Sports Commission is poorly funded.

There are also signs that football is asymmetrically funded more than all other sports put together. First, the disproportional funding in favour of football compared to all other sports put together, means that the overall fortune of sports in Nigeria will be looking downward and consequently, Government will be unable to actualize its policy objectives in this sector

In another perspective, the habitual delays in the passage of the annual appropriation bill also means that appropriate funds for the National Sports Commission and its organs would not be released as at when needed. The impact is the incapitation and derailment of its functions, including preparation for competitions and procurement of enabling resources.

This is particularly noticeable this year, 2011, as Nigeria prepares for the All African Games in September. Many Sports Federations are unable to hit the road in their preparation due to lack of funds. If Nigeria therefore, fails to fly in the All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique,   the National Assembly may not escape culpability.

2 The National Sports Commission (NSC) Bill.
Since 2007, an Executive Bill has been put to the National Assembly for an Act in respect of the establishment of the N.S.C. Up to this moment, this bill has not been passed into law. The impact of the non-passage of this bill into law is weighty and ramifying. I am not a law officer but I do know that this does not make the NSC to be as strong as it would have, if its enabling law is in place. I will attempt to analyze it here as follows:

(a)NSC Structure
The formation of the NSC structure suffers setback in the absence of its enabling law. As the principal Federal Government Sports Agency, the setback it suffers affects its capacity to function the way it should. For a first course taste of the situation, the law would have enabled the NSC to function fully with greater autonomy. Unqualified Staff would not be posted to it at will, from the central civil service operations,

(b)The NSC law would have given the organization power to exercise a lot of discretion, creativity and initiative as sports operations demand without the encumbrances of civil service bureaucracy. It could hire staff and fire non-performing ones as the need arises. Hence, the National Assembly has contributed to tying the hands of the NSC in doing its work well by its own inability to give it an enabling law.

(c)Lack of a Board.
The NSC law requires it to have a Board of which the Hon. Minister is the Chairman. An NSC without a Board will operate with a narrower decision making base. With a board, it would have been a more inclusive and stronger organization. In its history, the NSC has always operated with a Board. This has not been the case since its reincarnation, four years ago due to the disenablement   of the National Assembly. Will the National Assembly ever rise to its responsibility to sports development in Nigeria in this regard?

By Professor Emmanuel Ojeme

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