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BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE 

The 2020 Draft National Sports Industry Policy has been generating a lot of interest since it was released to the general public for review and necessary input. 

For us in the Ministry, especially in the light of the Federal Government’s effort to partner with the private sector in the quest to diversify the economy and provide a sound footing for the country’s socio-economic development through investments in non-oil sectors, we believe this policy is a great step in positioning sports as the center of development of several ancillary industries associated with the sector, that will promote sports development and jobs creation.

It must be emphasized that no development can be meaningful without outlining government’s statement of intent for the sector, through a National Policy, and the sports sector cannot be different. The thrust of the Sports Industrialization Policy is based on the Concept of the 3Is and 1P – Infrastructure development based on attracting Incentives backed Investment, all driven by a robust Policy that sets out how government intends to structure the process of achieving its objectives of a productive sports sector.

A structured process to arrive at the policy document was designed and adopted in collaboration with the private sector as represented by the NESG. Together we held several engagement sessions over a 4-month period (November 2019 – March 2020) with various stakeholders from across sports and non-sports sectors.

The COVID19 pandemic presented challenges on how to harmonise these sessions into a representation of the goals and objectives of the stakeholders, but the prevailing reality of non-contact working protocols meant that the work of drafting the policy had to be done virtually.

A Road Map was designed and adopted by the Supervising Committee (Sports Industry Working Group – set up by the Ministry in February 2020 and tasked with several mandates, chief of which was to deliver a draft National Sports Industry Policy).
The Road Map clearly provided for 6 Phases towards final approval of the policy by the Federal Government. These processes are ongoing and will eventually culminate in the presentation of the Policy for approval by the Federal Executive Council.

It must be noted that this is the first time a draft sports policy has been made available for the general public for scrutiny and contribution. On advice of stakeholders, the review period was extended by 10 days to enable more people to access the document and send in their views. 

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This stage of the policy development process ended on Friday 14th August, 2020, and all submitted reviews are being collated for validation and inclusion into the draft policy before forwarding to the National Council of Sports for their input and endorsement.

The Ministry applauds Members of the Supervising Committee as well as the Policy Drafting Committee for their commitment to the process and contribution to national development and we are indeed appreciative of their willingness to serve the nation selflessly.

While we acknowledge that we may not satisfy the desire of ALL Nigerians to make a contribution to the policy document, we are satisfied that the process designed for achieving this draft policy encompassed stakeholders across the whole spectrum of sports development.

What we have put in the public domain is a draft and subject to changes based on constructive feedbacks. The Ministry is committed to delivering a robust business model for sports industry development in Nigeria. 

Sports is an economic activity all over the world, and Nigeria cannot be different. The process of developing athletes from raw material to finished product capable of sustained podium success cannot continue to be a hit or miss affair as we have done in the past. 

The contributions of the private and social enterprise sectors into developing the sports value chain cannot be ignored any longer if we are to harness the full potential and power of sports for both social and economic development.

The new National Sports Industry Policy is a first step towards achieving this goal. We therefore call on all Stakeholders to embrace the process and assist in delivering on this objective. 

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