Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, yesterday described as totally unacceptable and embarrassing the situation where teams travelling out of Nigeria to represent the country in global sports competitions beg for funds.
Speaking when he received the National Executive Committee of the Sportswriters Association of Nigeria (SWAN) at the National Assembly in Abuja yesterday, the Senate President insisted that sports as a tool for national unity, cohesion and social development deserves to be treated better.
“We are committed to make the needed change in sports in the country with the NFF and National Sports Commission bills before the Senate,” stressed Dr Bukola who was supported in receiving the sportswriters by Chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports, Senator Obinna Ogba.
He also hinted that with the amendments to the National Lottery Trust Fund bill, sportsmen and women in the country were going to get better funding when fully operational.
The Senate President said Nigerians who opted to compete for other countries are doing so because of the better funding and welfare packages offered by those countries. “We must do everything to encourage and keep them at Nigerian athletes.”
Earlier, SWAN National President, Honour Sirawoo, announced the appointment of Saraki as National Patron of the body for his contributions to sports development when he was Governor of Kwara state.
“What you did for sports development in Kwara State where you set up football academy and brought former Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Clemens Westerhof as coordinator, what you did to put the Kwara stadium to the beautiful edifice it is now, shows your passion for sports and youth development and your commitment to sports development in the country. The NEC has approved your award as national patron of SWAN. We would pick a date for your investiture,” Sirawoo said.
The SWAN President, who commended the Senate for commencing amendment of the Nigerian Football Association (NFA) and the National Sports Commission (NSC) bills, however tasked the Senate President and the National Assembly to make laws that would move sports forward in the country, while calling for a bill that would create national sports university in the country.
“SWAN was established in 1964 to coordinate and manage activities of sports writers and promote sports growth in the country. Sports play unique role in the development of any society through unity and wealth creation. We are blessed in Nigeria with huge potential and population but we have not build on the potential to take sports where it should be.
“Nigeria faces several challenges in sports development, the NFA bill when amended would help government to provide enabling environment and allow private sector to run it. The NSC bill would enable the commission to be managed by professionals and technocrats. Nigeria needs a sports university to help promote sports,” concludes the SWAN president.