By Amaechi Agbo
Former Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Alhaji Sani Lulu has described his emergence as the NFF President from 2006 to 2010 as miraculous saying that his appointment as the former director of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Sports Council was the catalyst for his occupying the NFF exalted seat.
Alhaji Lulu stated this why receiving award for sports development in the FCT by the FCT Sports Council during the award night organised by the council to honour her athletes who won medals during the National Youth Games held in Ilorin, Kwara State, last year.
Lulu who said that the award night was apt in view of its ripple effect on the medallists and in nurturing athletes for the FCT and Nigeria as whole, commended the FCT Sports Council for finding him worthy of the award.
“I want to believe that for quite some time now, we have not had opportunity to converge and celebrate our great performing athletes. What this shows is that the government of the day is out to create maximum enabling environment for youth empowerment and encourage them to excel on their chosen sport activity. I have been privileged to be part of the sports family in the FCT particularly having served as a director and I am sure the only way you can get the best in sporting activities is to empower those stakeholders, have confidence in them that they can perform; delegate responsibilities to them to identify the grassroots talents.
“I am sincerely very happy we have ex-international athletes here who are around. These are people among so many of their colleagues of theirs that have passion not just because they are athletes but because they believe in using sports to support this great nation by bringing up those future athletes. I see a great future for this country. I must however say that I am very privileged because I joined FCT FA in 1981.
“I really want to make some few corrections – in 198, form Federal Capital Development Administration in Suleja, there was a skeletal sports unit but some of us who were senior officers and actively committed in participating in sporting activities, started by saying there must be football. The first set of the staff of the sports unit was moved to FCTA Abuja in 1982. As at then, there were no sporting facilities, so we created the sporting activities. We were playing football in Area 10 but with that environment, we put pressure on the FCTA to ensure that sporting unit must be working.
So if you are talking about the history of sporting activities in the FCT without making reference to this initial pressure group, it could not be a bit incomplete. But we are a nucleus of sports department and what led to that department; at least, you must give the historical background.
“Having said that, I am not a sports career officer. I stand to be a bit unique by my background as a professional Quantity Surveyor. So I am really privileged. In 2002/2003, there was a change of government at the ministerial level and the Honourable Minster of FCT then, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, came and transformed FCT Sports and to facilitate that, he chose me and made me director of sports council in the FCT.
“I want to believe, because I do not claim that I know it all, that the staff of the council took me as a child. They nurtured me as a child even though I was the director because I was accessible and transparent in all I was doing and even now.
“So the change begins with me started under El-Rufai as FCT Minister. My appointment as the FCT sports director was miraculous because it was from there that I became NFF president of which the rest are now history. It was that magic as director of sports that gave me the leeway and opportunity to rise to that position. And I am sure I will continue to do good job. When I became the NFF President, I was so transparent in doing my job. The records were very clear and all I did were clearly documented.
“I am so happy God Almighty has vindicated me and he will keep vindicating me because I am yet to see the final ruling. Even though I have been discharged and acquitted but I feel I did great job because you the staff and the government then and the government now is creating enabling environment for the best to come out of the citizens,” he explained.
Alhaji Lulu who is the chairman and proprietor of FOSLA ACADEMY, also advised sports administrators not to give up in their saddled responsibilities no matter the challenges they face as they hold the key to the future of sports in Nigeria.
“I want to encourage those who are leading our various sporting federations, please, don’t give up. There are challenges but we depend on you because government cannot do everything. We need sponsors; government can only create the platform, the enabling environment but we need the citizens who are passionate to come in and get the results we need to secure our sports in the future,” he concluded.
During the award night, 54 athletes and coaches were rewarded based on their performances. Gold medallists were given N300, 000 cash award same with their coaches; silver medallists and their coaches got N200, 000 while bronze winners N100, 000 along with their coaches.
Ikechukwu Osadebe Michael who won gold and bronze in Chess for Team FCT at the NYG was awarded scholarship by the former Inspector General of Police, IGP, Dr. Mike Okiro. The 13 year old boy and JSS 3 student of Junior Secondary School, Kubwa will attend any senior seconday school of his choice as well as Federal University in Nigeria with all expenses be paid by the former IG of police.