After several years of feet-dragging, Nigeria appears to be in throes of finally professionalising sports in the country following moves in the upper chamber of the National Assembly to give it legal backings.
Chairman of Senate Committee on Sports, Obinna Ogba (PDP Ebonyi Central), had sometime last year tabled a bill on the reintroduction of the National Sports Commission as a way out of the country’s sporting woes.
The bill was the fallout of Nigeria’s poor outing in the last two Olympic Games in London (2012) and Rio de Janeiro (2016) where the lone bronze medal won by John Mikel Obi’s Dream Team is what Team Nigeria has to show for the two outings.
In that bill, Ogba, a former Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) board member, had among others, articulated the appointment of only sports professionals to populate the NSC, including the office of the Chairman of the Commission or Sports Minister. That bill passed both the first and second reading last year.
A public hearing equally took place where several sports professionals made inputs on the bill.
Ogba told THISDAY last month that he remains very optimistic that the bill when finally passed was going to change the face of sports in the country.
On Tuesday, the report on the bill was tabled before the Senate for final consideration and passage.
Addressing reporters on Tuesday in Abuja, Ogba, brimming with smiles that his efforts is about to bear fruits, mince no word in insisting that after the third reading and passage by the Senate, the lower chamber of the National Assembly will see the merit in expediting action so that Nigerian sports will become free and truly professionalised.
“With the highly legalised National Sports Commission (NSC) the bill is putting in place, there will be no room for anybody who has no practical experience in sports to be chairman or member of the Commission even as not just anybody can be appointed as minister of sports. Only persons with background in sports must now head the sector for maximum efficiency,” stressed Ogba.
He continued: “Not only are provisions in the bill giving the required legal backing to the NSC but specifically making it an independent body that cannot be dissolved at will by the Presidency or the Minister.”
However, the Senate on Tuesday stood down the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) bill from passing third reading as a result of a provision banning any litigation in courts against decisions of the federation.
Ogba was unfazed by the setback. He assured stakeholders in the sector that the report on the bill will be represented next week Tuesday for final consideration after the contentious provision must have been re-phrased.