DELTA State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan has advocated long term planning as the panacea to the dwindling fortunes of Nigeria’s sports.
Uduaghan who gave the advice while declaring open the Annual General Meeting of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) in Asaba on Thursday, observed that apart from long term planning, different states of the country should also promote grassroots sports by concentrating in sporting activities in areas they have comparative advantage.
Dr Uduaghan, who bagged the Olympic Sports Personality award at the occasion, stated that Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2015 African Cup of Nations because after emerging victorious in the last edition of the competition, there was no consistency in the country’s preparation for the next edition.
He urged Nigerians to avoid apportioning blames but go back to the drawing board and prepare for forthcoming championships, “this is not the time to blame, if we engage in the blame game, we will not be able to get up, the challenge of falling is not about the fall but the ability to get up after the fall and get it right.
“After winning the African Cup of Nations, we went to sleep, we have to plan to succeed again, this is the time to strategize,” he said, adding, “we must not leave sports in the hands of the federal government alone, all states must identify its sports and sportsmen and develop them for the country because if all states develop their potentials in sports, Nigeria will be difficult to beat in sports meet.”
He continued, “States must provide the needed raw materials for the federal government to polish, grassroots sports must be encouraged in this country and Nigeria must be involved in sports politics at the international level.”
Dr Uduaghan disclosed that his administration was investing heavily in sports development because of the Delta Beyond Oil economic development model, noting that with active participation in sporting activities, the youths would be positively engaged and called on sports administrators in the country to have retirement programmes for sports men and women.
“We have it as a policy that any athlete who wins a gold medal in Delta State, gets automatic employment into the Delta State Public Service so that when you are no longer active, you have a paid employment and at your old age, you also get your pension because that is one of the ways we believe we can encourage the young ones to take up sports,” he said.
The Minister of Sports, Dr Tamuno Dangogo and Chairman, National Sports Commission who was represented at the occasion by Dr Bolaji Ojo-Oba thanked Dr Uduaghan for his support and contributions towards sports development in the country.
He explained that the annual general meeting of the NOC was an opportunity for sports administrators to rub minds on issues affecting sports development and promised cooperation with the NOC on sports development issues and moving sports forward in the country.
The member representing Nigeria at the International Olympic Committee, Alhaji Abdul Gumel challenged delegates to deliberate on ways to make Nigeria excel at sports competitions with the President, Nigeria Olympic Committee, Engr. Sam Ndanusa saying that the AGM was to elect new officers to run the affairs of the committee for the next four years.
President of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria, Chief Solomon Ogba also bagged Distinguished Sports Administrator award while Blessing Okagbare got the Best Current Athlete award and the Minister of Sports, Dr Tamuno Dangogo got the Sports Development Award.
The Bank of Industry got the Outstanding Developing Partners award, Mr Segun Toriola (Distinguished Athletes Merit Award). Post-humus awards were given to late Alhaji Raheem Adejumo and late Chief Abraham Odia for their contributions to sports development in the country.