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How Danagogo can succeed as minister of sports – Sambawa

The Sports Minister Bolaji Abdullahi was sacked on Wednesday, looking back now; can we say Nigeria has lost one of her best sports ministers?Well, I…

The Sports Minister Bolaji Abdullahi was sacked on Wednesday, looking back now; can we say Nigeria has lost one of her best sports ministers?
Well, I won’t say that. What I want to say actually is to congratulate my brother Bolaji for what he did within his short period in office as the minister of sports, as well as to congratulate the new sports minister (Tamuno Danagogo).
No doubt, the new minister will face a lot of challenges, which include the performance of Bolaji in office and what most of us were able to do during our short stay in office.
The second immediate challenge is he is just coming in and we have the Commonwealth Games coming up and the World Cup in Brazil where Nigerians have high expectations.
Also, I don’t know how he will be able to work with the team that has been working with Bolaji, particularly the business sector, as well as the Coordinating Minister of Economy who is the chairman of the committee handling the funding of sports.
As a former sports minister, what do you think will be the immediate challenge the new sport minister will face in his new assignment?
The biggest immediate challenge he will face now is how to get our athletes to go to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow which Nigeria has always done very well in the past. In Melbourne, where I led the delegation, we did extremely well, after which I expected Nigeria to host the event.
His biggest challenge now is where will he get the money now; because the budget is still at the National Assembly. Where is he going to get the money to get these guys (athletes) ready to go for the Commonwealth Games? Where is he going to get the money?
The luck we have in this one is that, out of the seven sports picked to feature in, there are about five of the sports that Nigeria usually does well in them.
I know that athletics, boxing, weightlifting, wrestling and badminton are some of the sports that Nigeria will compete in at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, and I know that these are areas that Nigeria can do well. So, where is he going to get the money quickly for the athletes to train properly and go and do well in Glasgow?
As far as I am concerned, this is the biggest challenge, and if you look back home, the league is yet to kick off and you know there are problems everywhere but you know how important sport is to this country, and you know with the situation in the country today, sport is the only unifying factor and that is why the President does not want to make any mistake in the sector.
I want to assure you that the President has seen something in the new minister and that is why he has given him that big challenge, and I am sure he will not fail Mr President.
Besides the challenge of achieving like the sports ministers before him, there is this issue of how to make a mark in a given assignment. As a former minister, what do you think the new minister should do to make a mark?
The first thing is that he should concentrate on doing his work and allow you guys to do your thing. He should not be swayed by what the sports writers are sating all over the place, he should have a focus.
Again, I think he can get the National Institute of Sports established in all the six geo-political zones of this country, and to sustain the work Bolaji started by selecting the young guys and bringing them to the amateur athletes and professional levels. He can get that and also get the Abuja centre properly set up. If he does that, he will make a big mark here, in the sense that most of us started it but were not able to get it going.
You know that when we started it, we selected a number of sports, like badminton, athletics, weightlifting, wrestling, boxing that we believe Nigeria can do excellently well in Glasgow. So, if he gets this started, I know Mr President will support him and the Coordinating Minister of Economy will support him.
If he is able to do this, it means he has been able to do something that most of us were not able to achieve during our time.
The third issue is he should concentrate and not allow people to distract him. He should concentrate, have a focus on what he intends to achieve within the short period of time he has because sports now have the highest turnover than all the ministries in this country.
He should also work closely with the Nigeria Football Federation to ensure that all the clubs that are today owned by government become private. He can partner with some of the developed leagues in the world to ensure the development of our local league. He can do that by even bringing some of the clubs to take over the running of some of clubs here to encourage Nigerians to go out there and watch our league matches across the country.
The fourth thing is that there is no need for the government to own any stadia in the country. Let him work with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to get these stadia taken over by private entities like MTN, Glo to make them centres of excellence as it is done across the globe.
If all these things are done under him, he will make a mark that no sports minister has made before him.
Early this morning, Nigeria played goalless with Mexico in an international friendly match in USA. Do you think that was a good result for the Super Eagles team preparing for the World Cup coming up in June?
Unfortunately, I did not watch the match. I wanted to watch but I slept off. Based on the target we have set for ourselves at the World Cup, I think that result was not good enough, in my own view. It is good to play a friendly, and I confirmed that they played well but I think we have a lot of local good players, as we saw during the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in South Africa.
We also have good young players across the globe; we should not focus only on Europe but the whole world because there are some good players in other places that nobody is looking at them. We should not concentrate on Europe, let’s look across the globe.
We should also look deeper into the Nigerian league and see the players we can bring in to blend with the players from Europe and be able to achieve our target. Like Sepp Blatter said, we have natural born talents.
For anybody to succeed, he or she must have the support of those working with him or her, and the former minister was said to have enjoyed the support of the NSC Director General that was why they got the good results. Do you see the new minister enjoying the same support?
Yes, I believe that if he has the support of every director in the ministry, including the Director General the sky will be his limit. But let me tell you, it all depends on the way he is going to play ball. If he decides to take control of everything and make these guys look like they don’t know what they are doing, they will mess him up, and that is the way they do it in the ministry there. They believe that a few months after coming in, the minister will sack them.
So, my advice to him is he should cooperate with each and every director, as well as every chairman and secretary of the sports federations. I believe with that the sky will be his limit. But anything on the contrary, he will face a lot of challenges.

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