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Senator John Owan Enoh Honourable Minster of Sports Development: The progress so far

May, 28 2024.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu's qualitative leadership was demonstrated in the demerger of sports from other sectors. For the first time in the nation, a Federal Ministry of Sports Development was established to explore the potential in the sports sector, potentials which will impact significantly on the nation's growth.Along the lines of creating employment opportunities, curbing insecurity , contributing to the Nations GDP etc

Senator John Owan Enoh the Honourable Minister of Sports Development is known for his hands-on approach and commitment to succeed in any given assignment, proven time and again as a lawmaker.

To gain a firm grasp of the sports sector, the minister performed a critical analysis, identified problems and opportunities, engaged stakeholders extensively, and began implementing policies to bring about enduring systemic change. These policies, some of which are revolutionary, have led to accelerated development of sports in the country. They include, but are not limited to, the following:

Activating and enabling a welfare system that caters for serving and retired athletes, as well as an annual recognition platform.

With Senator Enoh's priority presentation to the Presidency, President Tinubu cleared all the debts accumulated by the past administration in the funding of football, in excess of N12 billion. This demonstrates a significant commitment to looking out for the welfare of sportsmen and women. The money was transferred directly into the coffers of the NFF, as the minister's first motivation in politics has never been greed. He runs on a transparency module. At the time of this publication, the figures for financial interventions have climbed to about 17 billion naira as the welfare of athletes is a priority under the renewed Hope agenda of President Tinubu.

Transparency and openness in the disbursement of athletes' funds, by paying through the apex bank for the 13th All Africa Games. This policy ensures that no athlete is shortchanged. This genuine change experienced some teething problems in the form of delays in payment of a few athletes, but it is all sorted now.

Visitation and follow-up checks on injured athletes receiving medical attention during and after competitions. The minister always follows up on the wellbeing of the injured in the sports industry.

To end the usual bickering amongst athletes and officials, John Enoh has pushed and gotten the approval of the National Council on Sports for the establishment of a Court of Arbitration to handle matters within the sector instead of resorting to civil courts. This speaks to his love for decorum as a leader.

The welfare plan touches every Nigerian. At the 1st National Council on sports held in Enugu State, Nigeria on the 22nd of May, the minister sought the approval of the council that the Federal Ministry of Sports Development presents a memorandum to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to designate 2nd August of every year as National Sports and Fitness Day in Nigeria. A brainchild he nurses to address the wellbeing of Nigerians in general, as the ever-increasing number of cases of non-communicable diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, cardiac disease, cancers, etc., globally is of great concern to the World Health Organization and nationals of the world. The health benefits of physical activity are firmly established in medicine. Nigeria loses about $1.5b to $2b yearly to medical tourism. Senator Enoh's push for physical fitness as a lifestyle for Nigerians is commendable. This will further boost sports merchandise and add to the nation's GDP.

Nigeria has always been in the eye of the storm when it comes to doping, and the minister swung into immediate action to proffer a solution by ensuring the transmission of the national anti-doping bill to the National Assembly to ensure Nigeria has a befitting anti-doping organization that is compliant with the world anti-doping code, a process of redeeming the reputation of our nation through sports is indeed commendable.This is salvagingbthe image if the country globally.

Sports as Buisness .Sports as a means and source of livelihood and entertainment to Nigerians.

The minister's adoption of the National Sports Industry Policy clearly shows his genuine intention of developing the sports sector by seeing it as Business. The future of Nigerian sports lies in the private sector, this is an advocacy of the minister. His engaging with key players in the private sector is a testimony to his desire to further develop the NSIP to secure the interest of the private sector. An example is the capitalization of the local leagues currently underway.

INFRASTRUCTURE development: Investment in building and revamping stadia, as well as focus on grassroots sports facilities.

Senator John Owan Enoh kicked off his tenure with the inspection of sporting facilities at national and zonal levels and is currently partnering with the private sector for the rehabilitation of existing infrastructure. A key example is the partnership with EFFA Management, which covers the rehabilitation of sporting facilities.

Funding for sports development: The government is exploring collaborative funding models with the private sector to revolutionize sports in Nigeria. Groundbreaking agreements with key private sector players like GTI Assets and Yanga Games Ltd on the 19th of April 2024 are indications of the resolve to leverage innovation, technology, and human expertise.

Activation of grassroots sports development: Senator Enoh is pushing for early age (under-18) sports and revitalization of school sports. Introducing NIN submission to enable thorough screening of athletes at the Youth Games is aimed at allowing new talents to be unearthed within the age range of 13-18 years.

Reorganization of Sports Federations for impact: The administration is keen on implementing the 10-year football master plan, expanding the NFF congress, and developing a template to properly scrutinize those vying to be presidents of Federations.

Ministerial Podium Performance Team: The Honourable Minister of Sports Development has set up a team to handle Training Load Management, improved performance of athletes, accountability of sports administrators, anti-doping education, and a scientific approach to training programs. Teams that comply with the plan always perform excellently.

Nigeria's performance in sports: Nigeria had an outstanding performance at the 13th All African Games in Accra, Ghana. The country finished second overall, winning a total of 121 medals composed of 47 gold medals, 33 silver, and 41 bronze medals. The Super Eagles of Nigeria won the Silver Medal in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after 23 years.

Refereeing in the country: After the Confederation of African Football (CAF) snubbed Nigerian match officials in its 2023 AFCON list, the minister declared a state of emergency on refereeing in the country, leading to the establishment of a roadmap for the rejuvenation of officiating.

Achievements in women's sports: The Super Falcons were named the Team of the Year in Africa at the 2023 CAF Awards, and Chiamaka Nnadozie was named the first-ever African Goalkeeper of the Year. Elizabeth Oshoba became the first Nigerian female boxer to win a world title.

Under Sen. John Enoh's leadership, Nigeria qualified for the Youth Winter Olympics for the first time ever in South Korea.

With a great sense of national pride, I am excited to announce that the Super Falcons have qualified for the Paris Olympics 2024 after 16 years. This is a significant achievement for Sen. John Enoh as the sports minister, and it reflects his consistent support and leadership that has led to this success.

Team Nigeria athletes have already begun securing qualifications for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, which will take place in the summer of 2024. The Honourable Minister has established a high-powered ministerial committee to create a strategic roadmap for the Games and to improve the nation's chances of performing well at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Thus far, record shows that the number of qualified athletes for the Olympics representing Nigeria is the best the nation has recorded.

Every detail, including athlete hygiene, is being carefully considered. The preparation of athletes for the Paris Olympics is also being prioritized.

In other news, Tobi Amusan set a new African Women’s indoor record in the 60-meter hurdles at the Astana Indoor Meet in Kazakhstan, as well as a world-leading time at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational.

Additionally, Nigeria's Victor Osimhen was named African Footballer of the Year, making him the first Nigerian to win the award in 24 years.

Nigeria's basketball team, Rivers Hoopers, has made history by qualifying for the semi finals for the first time in BAL (Basketball Africa League) in Dakar, Senegal. This is the first time a Nigerian basketball team has reached this stage.

The 4x400m relay team also set a new African record of 3:12.87, marking the first time in 28 years. All of these achievements have taken place within the first nine months of Senator Enoh's tenure in office.

It's also worth noting that the National Council on Sports was held in Enugu from the 20th to the 22nd of May 2024. This council, as the highest decision-making body in the sports sector, is taking the first steps in a series of actions to address longstanding issues in the sector. This seems to be the most commendable sports council meeting to date.

The commencement of the Nigeria Sports Data Aggregator System (NISDAS)

In conclusion, while the work of the sports minister is far from over, it is clear that significant progress is being made, and the future looks promising.

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