By Alexander johnson Adejoh
The immediate past Minister of Sports, Sunday Akin Dare, has said to bring about the much-needed changes in the Nigerian sports sector, he had to take very tough decisions because he knew he wasn’t in a popularity contest.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain who spoke on Sunday in Abuja at a reception put together by stakeholders to celebrate his achievements said he stayed true to his promise to rebuild Nigerian sports from its foundation.
‘When we came, we said we were going to change the narrative. We decided to go to the foundation and start to rebuild from the source.
‘We had to make tough decisions. Leadership is not easy, and I keep saying it is not a popularity contest. I must do what is to be done. I don’t care whether anyone would abuse me, but the right thing must be done.
‘I am glad we have arrived where we are today. We have a Sports Industry Policy. For the first time Nigeria has put sports in her national development plan for the next four years. For the first time, sports will get N80b and youth N60b.
‘We have moved the sports ministry from a third-tier ministry to a competitive first-tier ministry. We have attracted Nigerians to sports. In four years, fund over seven million dollars came to sports from individuals and corporate organisations through the adopt-an-athlete and adopt-a-facility policies,” said Dare
The former minister who thanked all the Presidency, National Assembly, NOC, sports Federations and other relevant stakeholders for their unwavering support also said he worked harmoniously with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) because he adopted constructive conversation instead of confrontation.
‘When I came in, I took time to study the relationship between the past four ministers and the NFF and I decided I was going to take the road less travelled.
‘I decided I was going to engage in constructive conversations. If you avoid constructive conversation, you will end up with a confrontation. We managed that process,” he explained.
Dare, therefore thanked the NFF for willingly collaborating with him on the 10-year Master Plan for football development.
Amongst many stakeholders who eulogised the former Minister at the occasion was former International, Chief Segun Odegbami who described Dare as a national asset who deserves all the accolades he is getting.
The media mogul and sports critic said this is the first time in all his years in sports that a Minister has left office and is being celebrated.