By Albert Akota
Borne out of the determination to make a statement at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, the Minister of Youth and Sports Barrister Solomon Dalung has appealed to the National Assembly to appropriate sufficient funds for sports in the 2018 budget.
The Minister reasoned that for any meaningful success to be recorded by Nigerian athletes at the world stage in a busy 2018 calendar headlined by the Commonwealth Games, the FIFA World Cup and the FIBA World Cup for women in Spain, there must be adequate funding.
“We all know that the recent success of the Super Eagles who recently booked a 2018 Russia World Cup ticket was as a result of direct support from President Mohammadu Buhari who had to personally intervene at critical times during the qualification campaigns.”
Barrister Dalung said that the process of running to the President at every slightest opportunity for financial intervention for sports may be difficult to sustain at the long run considering the numerous international sporting events lined up for 2018.
In proffering solutions, the Minister announced that fundraise dinner will soon be held.
“A stakeholder’s dinner which will also include the National Assembly, state governments and all other concerned sports stakeholders will be organized soon to chart a new course of action for our participation at the World Cup.”
With many stakeholders calling for early World Cup preparations for the mundial, Dalung said that it may be an impossible task if something urgent is not done to raise the needed funds.
“In fact, let’s not be deceived. There was no budgetary allocation for the Super Eagles preparation for the 2018 World Cup in the 2017 budget.”
He tasked the House Committee to key into the vision of the Ministry of seeing a well prepared Super Eagles take on the world as a major player in Africa and world football.
“We are not going as mere participants but as contenders with a new vision, culture and tradition of modern soccer and a determination to make an impact at the World Cup.
“With sports being a tool for effective service delivery which is capital intensive, it is imperative to have sufficient funds available to support every stage of the preparation in other to make a successful impact in Russia.
“By this token, I’m passionately appealing to NASS to support our participation by appropriating sufficient funds to sports in the budget next year and thereafter.”
Speaking further, the Minister said that without sufficient funding, all efforts to make an impact at the global stage in 2018 may be a mission impossible.
“The significance of sports in National development cannot be over emphasized, therefore, all stakeholders including state governments must rise to this clarion call of repositioning sports for the benefit of the youths.
“We are committed and we shall do everything possible to promote the image and integrity of Nigeria,” Dalung concluded.