Ekeji: Only Minister That Will Add Value Be Assigned the Sports Ministry

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*Calls for return of the National Sports Commission

Duro Ikhazuagbe

Following the announcement of the list of 43 ministerial nominees by President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, a former Director General of the National Sports Commission, Dr. Patrick Ekeji has called on the Federal Government to assign the youth and sports portfolio only to the person coming to add value to the sector.

Immediate past Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung was not re-nominated along with 12 others from the previous cabinet retained by the president.

Speaking with THISDAY yesterday evening, Ekeji who played for the senior national football team, the then Green Eagles, insisted that for there to be any meaningful growth in the sports sector, whosoever that is appointed must be ready to learn as well as appoint experts as his advisers.

“There are professionals around, not necessarily those who have been there before. The new minister if he does not have any background in sports should look for experts as advisers not assistants who cannot tell him the truth.

“We have had such tragedies in the sports ministry in the past and their tenure never added any value to sports in the country,” stressed the former DG who is worried by the declining level of sports in the country.

Ekeji further called for the establishment of the National Sports Commission (NSC) as a way of getting sports technocrats to fully take charge to redirect sports for greater value in this second tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

“The return of the National Sports Commission I envisage is not the type by Presidential fiat. No, it should be a National Sports Commission that is properly established by law of the National Assembly. Its establishment should be backed by law so that nobody will come tomorrow and scrap it like it happened in the past.

“Whosoever that sports portfolio is assigned must have the boldness to drive the enactment of proper law for the return of the NSC to correct the wrongs in Nigerian sports at the moment.”

He insisted that it was wrong for past ministers to view the return of the NSC as coming to compete with the ministry in directing sports matters.

“ Most of the ministers we have had recently did not want to hear about the NSC coming back. I really don’t know why they were afraid. Return of the NSC is going to compliment the job of the minister. It was a tragedy for them to appoint only aides who have no voice of their own but merely ‘yes- men (and women).”

Ekeji dispelled fears that there is no expert in sports amongst the 43 names forwarded to the National Assembly for clearance before they are assigned portfolios.

“The ministerial appointment is political and it is usually given to those expected to add value to the electoral promises of the party in power. It is not based on core competence but the wise ones amongst those appointed seek experts to make their jobs easy. That is what I expect any person assigned the sports portfolio to do,” concludes Ekeji who is enjoying his retirement writing books on his experience as an astute sports administrator.