According to him, the ministry will be meeting with the NPFL and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to fine-tune plans for the restart of football in the country. Clubs, he further mentioned, will be assessed for their readiness to resume action, stressing that the league will resume with the teams that are ready.
Sports enthusiasts had linked the poor outing of Nigerian teams in the CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederations Cup to the halting of the league.
After being postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions, the National Sports Festival has now been scheduled to hold from February 14 to 28.
The National Council on Sports made the announcement on Tuesday via a press statement.
“The National Council on Sports under the chairmanship of the Hon Minister of Youth and Sports Development Mr Sunday Dare at an Extra- Ordinary Council on Sports Virtual meeting held today 15th December 2020, unanimously agreed to host the NSF 2020 on 14- 28th 2021,” the statement said.
“Justifying the reasons behind the postponement from the initial date of 3rd-18th December 2020; the Hon. Minister explained to members of Council the need for better precautionary measures against COVID19 bearing in mind the expected influx of holiday makers during the festive period, as agreed between the Ministry, the Presidential Task Force on COVID19 and the Host State.
“Recall that the National Sports Festival tagged ‘EDO 2020’ was originally slated to hold early this year ( precisely March) but for the outbreak of the COVID-19 which necessitated the Postponement and suspension of all sporting activities to guard against the spread of the corona virus nationwide.”
The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (FMYSD) has given approval to the Nigeria Volleyball Federation (NVBF) to host the 2021 African Nations Girls U-18 age Group Volleyball Championship.
The tournament is scheduled to take place at the MKO Abiola national stadium, package B Abuja from 29th January to 7th February 2021.
In order to prepare the national team for the continental championship, the federation is organising an open trial for the players under the age bracket to converge on Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna on the 10th to 13th December 2020 to select players that will be invited to the national camp.
For the continental championship, the Federation has put all pieces of machinery in place to ensure a successful hosting of the tournament with special reference to strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
At a press briefing in Abuja, the President of the Nigeria Volleyball Federation, Engineer Musa Nimrod confirmed the confederation of African Volleyball (CAVB) confidence in Nigeria to always set the pace in organising continental championship.
Meanwhile, a letter from the ministry signed by the permanent secretary, Gabriel Aduda informed the Federation to source for sponsorship to host the continental tournament as the ministry is struggling with financial difficulty.
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has approved January 3-17, 2021 for the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival tagged Edo 2020.
The new date was agreed during a virtual meeting on Thursday, convened by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, which reviewed circumstances around the recent rescheduling of the sporting event.
The new date is to allow the PTF, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Edo State Government and the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to complete the necessary steps and processes, as assigned, to ensure a hitch-free Festival and also achieve the deployment of rapid diagnostic test kits for over 11,000 athletes.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is hoping this shift will be the last the event will suffer and called on all those involved to ensure the requirements are achieved so the games can happen next year.
The virtual meeting had in attendance the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, PTF National Coordinator – Dr. Sani Aliyu, PTF’s Deputy National Incident Manager/ Head of Operations – Dr Assad Hassan, Representatives of NCDC, amongst others.
Edo 2020 was originally scheduled for March 21st – April 1st but was postponed two days to its commencement due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The entire Nigerian Super Eagles team will undergo a performance review, according to the Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare.
Dare disclosed this in Minna the Niger state capital after he was hosted at a get-together ahead of the All Progressives Congress Youth Leaders Interactive Forum billed to hold on Thursday.
According to the minister the review had become necessary in view of the performance of the team in recent times which he said fell short of the expectations of football-loving Nigerians.
“First, let me apologise to football lovers in this country,” Dare said. “We believe in the skills and talents of our Super Eagles players. But also, the country also expects that when we hire a technical adviser, when we put out fate in the hands of some people, we expect some returns. If you are a manager for your company and you don’t get the return you want or expect, you have the right to do a review and take very critical and crucial decisions.”
According to him, the review would cover the entire team including the players, the technical adviser, Gernot Rohr’s performance, and those involved in football administration in the country.
“We are going to sit back and review what has happened. We will review the entire team. We will look at our players, whether they are qualified or not, and whether they are ready for the team. We will also look at the technical adviser and the entire people involved in football administration and the Super Eagles. You see when you fail to do the necessary checks, then you run the risk of repeating the failures and the disappointments,” he said.
Asked if he was concerned about the allegations that he was interfering in the activities of the football team, Mr. Dare said the review was in the interest of the entire Nigerians.
“The Super Eagles represent which country? They wear which colour? What National Anthem is sung when they play? So, without Nigeria as a sovereign nation, they don’t represent anyone else. So, there is no interference. They represent this country. They don’t represent an association, they don’t represent an individual. They represent 200 million people. They carry our interests with them, and as a Minister of Youths and Sports Development, it is my responsibility to ensure that the interests of Nigerians are protected, to ensure that we have a football administration that serves the purpose and the need and vision of our country. So, it is a partnership and not interference,” the Minister explained.
Meanwhile, Dare called on youths in the country to come to the discussion table with the government to resolve the various issues of concern in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests across the country.
The Minister who said the entire government was responding to the outcome of the protests, assured that President Muhammadu Buhari was interested in the growth and development of the youths.
According to him, the current administration has at least twenty-five youths related programmes that can benefit the youths.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare on Thursday said congratulations are in place for Mr Adeoye Owolewa, 31, after he became the first Nigerian-born man to win a seat in the US House of Representatives.
“Congrats are in place for the 31-year old Adeoye Owolewa for making Nigeria proud by being the first Nigerian to win a seat in the United States Congress,” Dare tweeted.
Congrats are in place for the 31-year old Adeoye Owolewa for making Nigeria proud by being the first Nigerian to win a seat in the United States Congress.
Mr Owolewa, who reportedly hails from Omu-Aran in Kwara State, claimed victory in the U.S. Congress election for the District of Columbia on Wednesday.
“Looks like WE DID IT!!! I want to thank everyone, from family and close friends to DC residents,” he said in an Instagram post. “Because of your contributions and sacrifices, I stand before you as America’s first Nigerian American congressman.
“In this role, I’m going to fight for DC statehood and bring our values to the lawmaking process. While today is the day for some celebration, the hard work also follows. Again, thanks so much for everything. I wouldn’t be here without yall.”
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, says during the #EndSARS protests held across the country, fake news was widely spread through social media.
The Minister, who disclosed this on Monday, during an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said the question of fake news is bothersome not only in Nigeria but every part of the world.
“The protests brought home the dangers of fake news. Several months back, Nobel Laureate Winner, Professor Wole Soyinka said fake news is like the bomb that can destroy the world and it is sure that the bomb will come from Nigeria.
“What happened during the protests has been reviewed to a certain extent. We have seen debunking of several of the stories of deaths that came up.
“Everyone is worried about the negative impacts of fake news,” he said.
The Minister added that every country is dealing with fake news and in Nigeria, the National Assembly will do justice to the proposed regulation of social media to guard against the spread of fake news.
“The talk around regulation, of course, we have a National Assembly, it will have to go through the normal process. We have a constitution, they will have to make sure it does not violate certain provisions of the constitution that has to do with freedom of expression.
“Where you have fake news destroying lives, the government has a responsibility to make sure that there is a level of control. It is not censorship but some level of control,” the minister stated.
Dare added that the Federal Government had the option of shutting down the social media space during the #EndSARS protests but chose not to tread the path.
“Everyone one of us benefits from the internet. The fact that our youths used it to mobilise is commendable.
“But the talk about the regulation of social media has been around for a while. We’ve seen other countries taking practical steps in that direction, this country has not done that.
“Even during the #EndSARS protests, the country had an option. The country never went for that final option,” he added.
The Minister said the fact the Federal Government did not shut down cyberspace enabled people to connect themselves through their social media platforms.
According to him, this shows a government that is committed to the rights of freedom and association of every citizen of this country.
A comic book titled ‘Girls Can Fly’ has been launched in honour of late flying officer, Tolulope Arotile.
Arotile, Nigeria’s first-ever female combat helicopter pilot died in an accident on July 14, 2020, in Kaduna State at the age of 24.
The Heroes Comic Series was launched on Friday by the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar at an event organised by the Ministry of Youths and Sports in partnership with ‘I Choose Life Foundation.’
The comic book is for children between ages three-13. It is written to serve as a source of encouragement to young Nigerians to make choices that will benefit them and their nation.
It is also aimed to be a source of inspiration to the girl-child.
Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar during the launch of the book described Arotile as a gallant officer whose heroic acts will never be forgotten.
The event, which is organised with the aim of celebrating the Spirit of Young Nigerians had in attendance the Minister of Youths and Sports, Sunday Dare; Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, and the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
The news of Arotile’s death in July 2020 shook the nation, leaving many saddened by her demise at a prime age.
The NAF later immortalised Arotile in September by naming a Pilot’s Crew Room after her.
CAS Abubakar during the launch of the renovated and remodelled Pilots’ Crew ‘Room’ at the 115 Special Operations Group (115 SOG) in Port Harcourt said immortalising the deceased was in fulfilment of the Force’s promise.
Sports Minister Sunday Dare on Friday played host to an event in Abuja with a group of young Nigerians and discussed ‘My Nigerian Dream’.
The panelists include popular musician Waje; 15-year-old Samira Bello; Valerie Enekwe; Joel Ogunsola; among others.
The event is organised by the Ministry of Youths and Sports in partnership with ‘I Choose Life Foundation’ with the aim of celebrating the Spirit of Young Nigerians.
A comic book series titled, ‘Mum I Can Fly’ will also be launched by the Chief of Air Staff of the Nigerian Air Force, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, in honour of Tolulope Arotile, Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot who died in Kaduna on July 14, 2020.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, and the Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed are also in attendance.
The event also has virtual participants from Kano and Port-Harcourt.
The minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare insists the national stadium in Lagos is not a market, so there is no going back on the decision to demolish illegal shops and structures to achieve the objective of returning the edifice to its original blueprint.
Addressing the media in Lagos, Mr. Dare reiterated the government’s commitment towards improving infrastructure development.
“For 18 years, the national stadium in Lagos has been used for purposes other than sports. We have started a new regime of trying to develop our sporting infrastructure, the new orientation around sports.
“The facility in Surulere, Lagos is an iconic monument to sports development. It is a sporting complex, any other purpose for which is used will not be accepted. It is not a market, it’s not a beer parlour.
Business owners occupying some parts of the stadium have appealed to the ministry to give them more time to vacate but the ministry insists their time is up.
“What we are trying to do is return that place to its original blueprint and prepare it for concession. The concession process is in the last stage, we are receiving people with their submissions. They must have access to that place.
“If you go there now, you will be shocked that stadium is actually so beautiful because we’ve cleaned it up by taking those things down and we are sure that before the end of this year, you will see changes in that place and we hope to build a 150 shopping mall that all these people can come and be in a single, unified and decent place.”
Benefits Of Adopt-A-Pitch Campaign
In December last year, the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development launched the Adopt Campaign Initiative to support athletes and achieve development in some vital areas of the sector, particularly infrastructure development.
The Adopt-a-Pitch and Adopt-a-Sports Centre has a target of reviving sporting infrastructure and facilities across the country.
With the models, individuals or private sector organisations commit to rehabilitate and maintain a stadium pitch, or sports centre such as basketball courts, tennis courts, and the likes, for an agreed period.
The minister did more explanation. “The adopt-a-pitch model or private participation is simply a process in which we get an organisation or individual interested in adopting a sports facility.
“We offer our expertise to present to them four or five professional sport developers particularly when it comes to pitches, you must have a FIFA license.”
Last month, the ministry did the official hand over for the commencement of rehabilitation work of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium to the Dangote Group.
The renovation work will be completed in 24 weeks.
“We are pleased with the contractors working at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja and I’m sure when the work is done in February next year, we will all see it, FIFA will come and certify it, if it does not meet FIFA standard, the contractor will rework it to meet the standard,” the minister assured.
2020 National Sports Festival Still Possible?
The 20th edition of the National Sports Festival tagged “Edo 2020” was scheduled to hold from March 22nd – April 1st, 2020 but due to the coronavirus outbreak, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the postponement of the games as a precautionary move against its spread.
There have been speculations about a rescheduled date for the event and the minister of youth and sports development provides some clarifications.
“It is our desire to have the National Sports Festival which I call Nigeria’s Olympics to take place this year. We have shown the commitments. We’ve had a team, we had the report where they suggested October for the event.”
Last month ministry announced the resumption of non-contact sports and that brought some sort of excitement to the sporting community.
Things almost got better last week when the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 suggested the gradual return of contact sports but later reversed the decision.
“Based on the Covid-19 infection rate and other indices, Covid-19 infrastructure, protocols, we’ve been working with the PTF, NCDC, and the health Ministry. The ministry will be properly guided, when the numbers are right, we will have the festival. We are going to have contact and non-contact sports. The world has started both but observing the protocols, if we do the same thing here, we can get on with our lives,” Dare stated.
According to the organisers of the Edo 2020 games, about 11,000 athletes and their officials had declared readiness to participate in this year’s edition.
“Conversations are ongoing, in a matter of weeks we should make progress. We’ve provided all the necessary documents and preparations. Remember two months ago, we submitted to the National assembly and PTF, the Covid-19 sports protocols that focused on contact and non-contact sports with a particular section dedicated to football,” the minister assured.
The National Sports Festival is a platform that showcases upcoming and established athletes in the country and has a huge following. The last time it was properly was Eko 2012 edition in Lagos.
In fulfilment of the promise made a year ago that the nation’s sporting facilities would be revived, the Youth and Sports Development Minister, Mr Sunday Dare has handed over the pitch of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium to the Dangote Group, for the commencement of rehabilitation work.
The renovation work will be completed in 24 weeks.
At the handover ceremony in Abuja, Mr Dare reiterated the promise made on the assumption of office a year ago that the pitch and indeed other facilities will be revived, in line with the Ministry’s policy of Adopt Campaign.
‘’I promised that this pitch and indeed other facilities will be revived and put to best use by athletes.
“In line with that mandate, we sought the support of many philanthropists and sold them our vision of bringing back the glory days when our national stadia were filled to capacity on football game days which were the melting pot of various cultures and people of all ages.
The Minister thanked the President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote for responding to the call to restore the edifice.
“After months of discussions, planning and processing, that promise has come to fulfilment today with the kick-off of the project… the football pitch will be getting the long-overdue facelift it deserves,” the minister said.
Mr Dare commended Alhaji Dangote and his group for believing in the vision of the Ministry by agreeing to partner with it to restore the fading glory of the edifice.
The Minister explained: “This landmark event reinforces my faith in the public-private sector partnership in line with Government’s efforts at delivering on our mandate.
“Government alone cannot fund sports and maintain facilities. We need more private corporations to take a cue from what Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Chief Adebutu Kessington have done in supporting our drive to renovate and maintain our facilities for use by our athletes and to play host to international events.”
Nigerian Ex-internationals who played the first football match on the pitch of Moshood Abiola Stadium against Brazil where on hand to witness the event : Daniel Amokachi; Nwankwo Kanu, Garba Lawal, Tijani Babangida. Austin Popo, Chika Chukwumerije &Gabriel Okon were also present pic.twitter.com/XJZWrPmZRo
While urging the contractor to move with the speed of light, Mr Dare said the government had imbibed a proper maintenance culture to guarantee that the huge sum spent on these projects are not wasted.
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Mr Gabriel Aduda confirmed that the government does not have the resources to maintain sporting facilities, hence the strategy to partner with the private sector through the Ministry’s Adopt Campaign.
To this end, the Permanent Secretary stated that the Campaign is yielding fruits.
Speaking during the event, the representative of Dangote Group, Engr. Ahmed Mansur stated that the Company was committing one million US dollars to the project, to ensure that the main bowl pitch of Moshood Abiola Stadium is restored to world-class.
The ceremony was witnessed by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, Senator Obinna Ogba; President of the Nigeria Olympics Committee, Engr. Habu Gumel, Mallam Alhassan Yakmut; Special Assistant to Mr President On Sports, Daniel Amokachi; Nwankwo Kanu, Garba Lawal, Tijani Babangida, Chika Chukwumerije and Gabriel Okon; and an impressive array of ex-internationals.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare believes the sporting community will benefit a lot from the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF).
In an interview with Channels Sports, Mr. Dare explained that the initiative provides accelerated access for those in the sports sector who are entrepreneurs or active in the business space to get funding that will support their enterprise, ideas, and innovations.
The Federal Executive Council, on July 22, approved the establishment of the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF).
A minimum of N25 billion each year in the next 3 years making a total of N75 billion will be required for the project.
For the remaining part of 2020, an initial sum of N12.5 billion will be needed to kick start the process.
It is expected that successive governments will keep the fund alive
”To a very large extent, our youths engage in sports,” he said. “When you look at the sports value chain, beyond just being an active athlete, there is a value chain in the sporting industry.
“For instance, football, the merchandise – football boots, jerseys stockings, football itself, tennis rackets etc. If we find our youths, and many of them are involved in the process. Those that can produce sneakers and other sporting products can step forward, present their ideas with their business plans, and access the funds that we have in NYIF. I think that’s an opportunity for our youths in the sporting sector.”
The Minister added that NYIF comes to compliment several other government programmes that are youth-focused at different levels within different ministries and departments of government.
”We think that clearly across the world, the only way you can really address and bring down the numbers of youth unemployment is by turning them into entrepreneurs,” he said.
“To do that, you must invest in their ideas, invest in the plans they have, support their enterprises. So we thank president Buhari for approving this, with the entirety of the federal executive council members who stood solidly behind the Nigerian youths.
”Several of our youths are also involved in other sectors. We have seen the explosive potentials of our youths on the global stage. Most of them are snatched up by other counties who easily make credit available for them, venture capitalists.
“This time, Nigeria is taking a risk in putting its money behind the ideas of the youths and we saying its time to improve on their local contents and the country is ready to invest.”
The fund aims to reach 500,000 youths annually between 2020 and 2023.
Each fund approval will range from N250,000 to N50 million, with a spread across group applications, working capital loans set at one year, and term loans set at three years with a single-digit interest rate of 5%.
COVID-19: Blessing In Disguise?
The Minister agrees, to some extent, that the pause in sporting activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic has actually given a bit of a breather to step back and try to see how the ministry can re-plan and revamp some of its efforts.
“The window provides a good opportunity for reflection and improvise on ways to get better,” he said. “But the ministry admits the pandemic also brings a constant worry.
”On the part of the athletes who have prepared for either the sports festival or the Olympics, it’s been really a downturn for them because most of them have prepared long and hard for these competitions, most of them earn their pay and revenue from competing and we have had to struggle with those two aspects, the athletes getting rusty, the fact that their streams of income have been blocked.
“That’s been two twin challenges we’ve had to deal with and I think that to a large extent, the response of the ministry of Youth and Sports to an extent through the ad hoc palliative we had, the response of the IOC, the response of the world athletics, FIFA and other bodies have gone a long way to bring succour to sportsmen and women across the world, particularly Nigerians. That gladdens our hearts.
“But there are a few lessons learned, we’ve stepped back to response in a proactive way to the Covid-19 challenges.
“Sports, apart from the aviation industry, remains one of the hardest hit when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic and you’ll recall that it is sports that took the first bold step in this country to shut down the national sports festival in a proactive response to stop the spread of Covid-19 in Nigeria”, he confirmed.
Post Covid-19 Plans?
The Ministry of Youth and Sports development has taken a couple of proactive steps just like other sectors of the economy.
Two weeks ago, they came up with a Covid-19 sports resumption protocol which was put together by the ministry and circulated among the sporting federations across the country for their input was benchmarked against similar sporting protocols of world athletics, IOC and even Fifa.
The comprehensive safety protocol document was submitted to the presidential task force set up by President Muhammadu Buhari on Covid-19.
On July 10, the Nigeria Football Federation in an online meeting agreed that full enforcement of licensing regulations and financial controls for the Nigeria Professional Football League will commence from the 2020/2021 season.
All clubs are required to comply, failing which they will be barred from participating.
The minister confirmed they support the move from the football body.
”We have decided to work with the NFF, we had quite a number of meetings,” he said. “The NFF executive body, finally based on the elections held with club owners decided that we should end the league season so that we have enough time to prepare to start the next season, 2020/2021.
“We hope that the intervening period we have will give us time, will give the NFF time and our football clubs to get their players, managers, and coaches to imbibe the Covid-19 protocols, put together in place the Covid-19 infrastructure that is needed to return to the domestic football league.
“But more importantly, to bring back the licensing conditions and regulations that are necessary because we are entering a new regime in which all licensing conditions in the books for our domestic clubs must be enforced to the latter. Such that if we are going to end up with eight clubs, I think we are ready. We want to put a value on the clubs, we want to put value on our players, we want to make sure that our league in this country starts to be at par with what we see in the EPL, La Liga, and Bundesliga’.”