The Federal Government has reaffirmed its commitment to the growth of the sports sector and called upon football stakeholders to collaborate in harnessing Nigeria’s vast potential in the game.
Senator John Owan Enoh, the Honourable Minister of Sports Development, emphasized the importance of unity among stakeholders during an interactive session with officials from the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), Nigerian Referees Association (NRA), and Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) at his office in the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
The minister highlighted that this collaboration was crucial as Nigeria prepares to host the 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) early next year. He stressed that working together to develop the sport would not only unlock opportunities within the industry but also ensure proper officiating representation at global competitions.
Senator Owan Enoh underscored the unifying role of sports in Nigeria and the government’s dedication to its development. He viewed sports not only as recreation but also as a means to create jobs, alleviate poverty, enhance security, and promote women’s participation in sports, particularly football.
“Sports means a lot to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as well as millions of Nigerians; specifically, football unites the people irrespective of their tribe, religion, or cultural affiliations,” the Minister stated.
He explained that the engagement aimed to address the non-inclusion of Nigeria’s officiating representation at the 2023 CAF competition and urged stakeholders to work diligently to establish robust grassroots structures for both female and male football participation.
The Minister assured that the government would continue to foster an enabling environment for sports development in Nigeria and called on stakeholders to collaborate in finding solutions to the issues surrounding the country’s exclusion from the 2023 CAF competition.
Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye, the Chairman of the Nigeria Premier Football League and leader of the team, commended the Minister for initiating the engagement, marking the first time a Sports Minister sought such interaction to resolve issues related to officiating representation at a competition. He pledged the team’s commitment to brainstorming and presenting recommendations to the government for the way forward.