The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, and the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, have urged the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to shun corruption and adopt transparency in their conduct so as to attract investors and reposition the sector for growth and development.
Obaseki and the minister made the call to stakeholders from the 36 States of the Federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at the 75th Annual General Assembly (AGM) of the NFF, held in Benin City, the Edo State Capital.
Obaseki, who reiterated his administration’s commitment to sports development, said the sector will be able to attract sponsorship and investors if corruption is reduced.
The governor also commended the sports minister for the bold steps taken to tackle the rots in the country’s physical infrastructures for sports, stressing that his administration is following the foot step in rebuilding the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.
“We have rebuilt the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium with state-of-the-art facilities as it has the requisite technology. We also installed Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in the stadium. We have invested in sporting infrastructure across the state, building mini stadia in all 18 Local Government Areas to develop sports in the state.
“In Edo, we have taken sports seriously as we have created a commission with its own executive chairman. Sports start and end with good governance, as there is need for accountability and transparency.”
The minister who was represented by Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports, Mr Olusade Adesola, frowned at the perception of football development in Nigeria, describing it as polluted on account of the negative perception of corruption.
“The stigma of corruption in NFF predates this board, hence the need for proper accountability and transparency going forward because we must move quickly to change this toxic perception. With the bad image at all levels of our football, including the organisers, our domestic leagues cannot attract sponsorship, which is the biggest hub of business.”
He continued, “The first step towards reducing corruption is for all transactions in football to be transparent and it starts now. Transparency should be the new watchword if the NFF and its affiliates want to do the business of soccer to rake in millions as is the case in other climes.”
Dare said his ministry has spent the last four months working with experts and the organised private sector to turn sports into a business.
“A brighter future is possible for our football development in Nigeria as we have abundant raw materials (talents) to dominate the world in football. But we need to organise the business of football as it is done in order climes to achieve the same success level.”