The emergence of Sundar Dare as Minister of Sports and Youth Development was not greeted with enthusiasm because he was not a familiar name in sports circles. The former journalist turned politician has however proven that the hood does not make the monk.
Notwithstanding the skepticism that greeted his coming, Dare has gradually weathered the storm in sports and turned around the old ways of doing things that the initial criticism is giving way to applause. His maxim says to be no more business as usual.
The administrators of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, some of them, without training in sports administration, have been able to manioulate their journalistic and Engineering professions into the field of sports and making the sector an enviable juicy ministry.
Wisdom to make a difference is not usually in the profession of study, but can be likened to the direction of nature which portrays the fact that ‘man can propose and God can dispose”.
Minister Sunday Dare, the permanent Secretary Nebolisa Anaka including their major stakeholder, Engr Habu Gumel of the Nigeria Olympic committee, have successfully synchronised the calendar of activities of sport to a transparently, realistic and agreeable field with a road map that is a guide to any incumbent administrator.
The formidable team in the ministry is driving a focused vision of what grassroots development and discovery should be, while setting a standard for president of Sporting Federations to deviate from depending solely on the government to proffer all idea for their success.
The minister has, through his exemplary actions, encouragement, doggedness, determination, self development and visible motivation, demonstrated government’s support to federations leadership as well encourage their continuity.
It is worthy to note that the minister, always accessible, personally supervises critical activities of sporting programmes to avoid the usual misconception that every activity is a jamboree. Notably, this time of Covid-19 pandemic guided the ministry’s leadership to discover relevant staff that contribute immensely in the ministry’s function. One of which is the last National Festival held in Edo state, where some of the staff exhibited relevance in their designated field of responsibility.
Minister Sunday Dare is not compromising with the image of the country. Ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, he has taken his charge to the athletes to see sports beyond personal glory or success without considering the image of the country.
He is mindful of the set standards for qualification for the games and has enjoined all those saddled with the responsibilities to settle for nothing less. The permanent secretary, stakeholders in sports, Olympic sports presidents, technical and relevant staff of the ministry are running with the vision to ensure that the athletes are provided all the necessary kits and logistics for their qualification.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has received commendation from Sunday Dare for their support in facilitating visa issuance for the athletes to enable them raise the country’s flag during the championship. The Nigeria Olympic committee are also strict with visa processing in accordance with the guiding rules from Japanese Embassy and country who have emphasized that they will not welcome spectators due to Covid-19 protocol.
State directors of sports should also be commended for insisting that their athletes were tested for the coronavirus in preparation for the Olympic games. President of sports have also been advised by the minister to have close relationship with their athletes to avoid them taking substance that will make them test positive to drugs. The presidents were also asked to make it mandatory for their athletes to be in Anti-Doping Administration and Management (ADAMS) plat form in order to ensure their availability or where abouts at any point in time according to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) regulations.
Meanwhile, the management of sports has made the athletes her priority by negotiating with suitable companies that will produce benefiting kits required by the athletes for the events. It is also worthy to note that the athletes will be rewarded double for any medal they win and as well as be in the historical documentation of the ministry.
The minister permanent secretary, and NOC President, presidents of Olympic and Paralympic sports are indeed doing everything possible to meet the standard of qualification and produce athlete who will finish on the podium. They have tried to emancipate the country and athletes from unnecessary delays and backwardness in preparations and most importantly, redeem the image of the country from foreign media that captures only negative narratives about Nigeria to the detriment of our efforts .
Dare and his team are bent on bringing back the glory days of Chidi Imo, Innocent Egbunike, the Ezines twin brothers, Davidson and Osmond, Mary Onyali, Chioma Ajunwa, Falilat Ogunkoya and football talents Kanu Nwankwo, Jay Jay Okocha, and Daniel Omokachi.
They will wish that at the end of their, tenure, the world will be attracted to source for energetic talents littered across the length and breadth of the rom our country.
Okafor is a press officer with the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development