Nigerians are sports loving people. One sport that has united Nigerians and sold our image to the world is soccer. But sports have been poorly managed in Nigeria, either due to a lack of creative ideas or poor management skills of people elected to positions of authority in Nigerian sports organizations.
These are the reasons why we have failed as a nation to turn sports into a profitable business that can provide solutions to one of the main challenges facing the country: unemployment. Why have the various levels of government failed to privatize this unifying sector so that those with business ideas can transform the sector and give work to our multitude of unemployed youth?
It is in this context that we commend the federal government for reclassifying sports as a business, and not merely recreation, to give birth to the vision of the National Sports Industry Policy (NSIP) to ensure sports play a role highlighted as an instrument of national unity and cohesion; in promoting health and fitness through mass participation, and contributing to economic development and gaining global recognition for Nigeria and sportsmen.
The NSIP, recently approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), outlines an effective means of improving sports financing, outlining the obligations of different levels of government, the involvement of the private sector and other stakeholders in sports. The approval ends the efforts of the Federal Ministry for Youth Development and Sport to obtain a policy document for the administration of sport in the country.
Some of the approved incentives, as outlined in the policy document, include: five-year tax exemption and rebate for investors in the sports value chain; provision of land and exemption from certain taxes on land used for sports; single-digit loan interest rates for corporate organizations and individuals investing in the sport value chain; independent government funding through the establishment of an Independent Athlete Welfare Fund (AWF) from which athletes representing the country can draw support for education and training; application of Renovate Operate Transfer (ROT), Build Operate and Transfer (BOT), Integrated National Financial Framework (INFF), Nigeria Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP) or any other innovative public-private partnership financing model for provision, rehabilitation of sports facilities in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the full operation and application of the Sports Government Code.
The NSIP seeks to address the persistent problems of adequate and sustainable funding of the National Sports Federation (NSF), which is, of course, a key driver of the goals of the draft policy. In addition, the commitment to a synergy between ICT/digital technology and sports will be essential to improve existing sports standards, especially in two crucial areas that have tarnished the sporting integrity of the Nigerian state over time: doping and factors of eligibility for soccer age. In addition, the absence of a sport-specific legal framework for the protection of intellectual and commercial property rights has led to the proliferation of counterfeiting and trademark infringement.
The NSIP goes on to specifically highlight a considerable number of roles for each level of government and the private sector, as well as policy recommendations, action items, and recommendations. Interestingly, one of the recommendations includes amending the 1999 Constitution to specifically include sports as an issue deserving of legislative jurisdiction at all levels of government, and updating tax laws to give effect to proposed tax breaks and incentives. for sport stakeholders and Participants.
In the opinion of this newspaper, the NSIP represents the boldest and most significant statement of intent by major players in the sports industry to take sport to the next level by building a much-needed recreational, cultural (social) and economic reputation for the sector. .
In addition, our young people can be encouraged to form clubs or sports teams. They can build a team in a particular discipline or build teams in other disciplines and build a club and turn it into a lucrative business where sponsorships and promotion of sporting activities and products can thrive. Sports packaging and promotional companies can organize competitions that involve young people.
We therefore call on the federal government to ensure that the NSIP is implemented to the letter and does not suffer the fate of similar previous policy documents in the country.