Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, has called on the National Assembly to revisit the bill supporting tax waivers for investors in sports development.
Dalung made the call when the Nigeria Hockey Federation led by its President, Senator Abdul Ningi, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.
The bill, if passed and assented to will have a tax rebate for any company that supports sports. This is expected to generate funds for sports development while waiving a per centage of taxes paid by sponsors.
“Elsewhere around the world, financial institutions pick athletes, adopt them and spend their money on the development of those athletes.
â€œWe must have such traditions in Nigeria. Here, multinationals make billions in Nigeria and none of them plough back the interest or the profit of their investments into sports, yet, they put billions supporting sports in other countries.
â€œThat is unacceptable and that is why I will lend my voice to call on the National Assembly to revisit that legislation which was concluded but did not receive the Presidential assent, because it is a desirable legislation for sports development.
â€œIf we have that bill passed and assented to by Mr President, definitely our sports development will be rapid and massive,” observed Dalung.
The minister also commended NHF for bringing hockey back to life and for soliciting funding for their various programmes.
“Despite the challenges being faced by the federation, you have been able to make indelible landmarks as far as hockey is concerned in Nigeria and Africa. All that needs to be done is justice for other federations in Nigeria.
â€œOver the years, we deliberately embarked on policies of elimination of other sports and this went down to even the elimination of institutional sports. This situation was compounded by the inequitable policy of only appropriating more funds to choice sports while others were abandoned to their fate.
â€œI want to assure you that having successfully conducted the elections of the national federations, we will move to equity and justice in sports administration,” pledged the minister.
Earlier, the President of the NHF, Senator Ningi said that since coming on board, the federation has been able to meet all its domestic competitions on the calendar.
“We have taken part in the Super league, League One, National League and club competitions. In spite of the problems of funding, the federation members are still doing their best to ensure that we are always represented at competitions,” revealed the NHF chief.
The Senator also solicited support for the upcoming Nations Cup competition billed for Egypt.
“It is our flagship competition and it was initially scheduled to take place in August in South Africa but because of the international league that took place there, it was moved to Egypt.
â€œOur ambition is to put Nigerian hockey back on the African continent and global limelight. Ghana, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa get endorsements from their private sector but in Nigeria, it is only football and basketball that they invest in and therefore we must do whatever we can to get the business sector to come up with how to move other sports forward,” he noted with regrets.
He called on the Minister to assist the federation with sponsorship for the Nations Cup.