President Muhammadu Buhari declared Tuesday in Abuja that football remains Nigeria’s number one sport and a national asset, and that his administration will resist any attempt to undermine its development.
The president made the announcement when receiving the 10-year football Development Masterplan submitted by Chief Sunday Dare the minister of Youth and Sports Development.
In a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina, the president said;
“Our passion and a major tool for unity,” the President affirmed that it is the responsibility of the government to safeguard the sport, which has brought Nigeria many laurels, and “treat it as a national asset.”
“Indeed, just as I expect and demand a higher standard of patriotism, responsibility, and commitment from those charged with the administration of our football, I also urge all stakeholders to work together constructively and patriotically.
“We have seen attempts to disrespect and undermine the institutions supervising our sports. We have seen attempts to subjugate national interest for narrow interest or disrespect the laws of Nigeria. Nigeria will not take lightly any attempt to inflict injury on its football fortunes”.
President Buhari, who used the occasion to express his expectations from the two-volume report, directed the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to begin its implementation in stages, within the fine lines of relevant sections of the Nigerian sports development laws and FIFA statutes.
He added, “This government is interested in developing a football culture that will accommodate global best practices that will also help the nation to lay a solid foundation for her domestic football, put in place professionally and efficiently run leagues, entrench a consistent and stable football calendar and create a value chain which will boost the sports ecosystem.
“Achieving this will guarantee desired progress in continental and international competitions.
“I know that a lot of work went into putting this 10-Year Masterplan together. I received regular briefings on the work being done and I am happy that our goal has been achieved. I am happy that the Masterplan enjoyed the inputs of a wide range of stakeholders in football.
“I am equally happy that the Nigeria Football 10-Year Masterplan (2022-2032) identified Fifteen (15) Key Areas of challenge and provided practical recommendations to address these fundamental problems that have bedeviled football development in the country.
“The implementation of the short-term and medium-term plans should commence.
“I believe this will signal a positive turning point for our football and a major step forward in our bid to create a conducive environment for its sustainability, viability, and profitability.
“The Nigeria Football Federation, the body charged with the development of our football is directed to own and commence the implementation of this master plan under the supervision of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.”