Chairman of Senate Committee on Sports and Social Development, Senator Ahmed Adamu Gumba
By Kunle Akogun in Abuja
Concerned about the steady decline in the fortunes of football and sports generally in the country, the Senate said Tuesday that it would conduct a public investigation next week to unravel the cause of the decline and proffer solutions on the way forward.
Chairman of Senate Committee on Sports and Social Development, Senator Ahmed Adamu Gumba Tuesday confirmed the move to unravel the mystery while briefing newsmen on the proposed probe which is expected to hold on Monday and Tuesday next week.
He said that all sports stakeholders are expected to submit memoranda and attend the public hearing to brief the committee on how to resuscitate sports generally with particular reference to football.
Gumba insisted that the probe will attempt to get to the roots of what led to Nigeria's fall from fifth position in 1994 to 56th position in the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) ranking.
According to the lawmaker the probe will help to give direction on how to generate interest in sports at the grassroots level.
On the lingering tussle between the NFF and NFA, Gumba disclosed that his committee has drafted a bill for the repeal of the Nigerian Football Association (NFA) Act and substitute it with Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), adding that until the Act is repealed, the law recognises NFA.
He, however, said both factions have indicated their willingness to withdraw their cases in court.
“Nigeria, is going backward in all sporting activities particularly Nigerian Football where we have performed excellently well in the past and as last year, we had been pushed down the ladder from no 5 in 1994 to number 56 last year and Tuesday, the chairman of the Nigerian Football Association was saying at the House Public Hearing that we are now number 57th. It was this development that was responsible for why I sponsored a motion to brief the Senate.
“The purpose of the public hearing is to invite all sports loving Nigerians to write memoranda and submit or present to the committee on how to resuscitate sports generally with particular reference to football. They can write on football, hockey, or basketball or boxing. It is our belief that Nigerians should wake up and improve in all these sporting activities so that we can regain our position in the committee of nations."
He continued: "Very soon, we shall be attending the Olympic Games we expect that we should perform there and it is important we start somewhere. It is true that it has taken a long time when we started sliding down the ladder. And it is not possible perhaps to go back to our last position in 1994 in a matter of one or two years but at least we draw a time line and begin to climb up again and within the next two years we will find ourselves somewhere. That is what the public hearing is trying to address; we may have to start from the grassroots, build up, develop interest and then begin to progress and soon we will find ourselves at the top and be number one in Africa again.”