Buhari endorses 10-Year Football Devt. Master plan, vows to ensure its development

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari says football remains the number one sport in Nigeria and a national asset.

According to the president, his administration will resist any attempt to undermine its development.

Buhari stated this when he received the 10-year Football Development Masterplan submitted by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, on Tuesday in Abuja.

While describing football as ”our passion and a major tool for unity,” the president affirmed that:

”It is the responsibility of the government to safeguard the sport, which has brought Nigeria many laurels, and treat it as a national asset.

”Indeed, just as I expect and demand a higher standard of patriotism, responsibility and commitment from those charged with the administration of our football.”

Buhari also urged all stakeholders to work together constructively and patriotically.

”We have seen attempts to disrespect and undermine the institutions supervising our sports.

‘ ‘We have seen attempts to subjugate national interest for narrow interest or disrespect the laws of Nigeria. Nigeria will not take lightly any attempt to inflict injury on its football fortunes,;; he added.

The president used the occasion to spell out his expectations from the two-volume report.

He directed the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to commence its implementation in phases.

He said this should be carried out within the fine lines of relevant sections of the Nigerian laws on sports development and the statutes of the world soccer governing body, FIFA.

”This government is interested in developing a football culture that will accommodate global best practices.

”This will also help the nation to lay a solid foundation for domestic football and to put in place professionally and efficiently run leagues.

”It will also help in entrenching a consistent and stable football calendar and create a value chain which will boost the sports ecosystem,” Buhari said.

He said that achieving this will guarantee desired progress in continental and international competitions.

‘The president said: ‘I know that a lot of work went into putting this 10-Year Masterplan together.

”I received regular briefings on the work being done and I am happy that our goal has been achieved.”

The Nigerian leader expressed delight that the Masterplan enjoyed the inputs of a wide range of stakeholders in football.

”I am equally happy that the Nigeria Football 10-Year Masterplan (2022-2032) identified 15 Key Areas of challenge.

”It has also provided practical recommendations to address these fundamental problems that have bedeviled football development in the country.

”The implementation of the short term and medium term plans should commence.

”I believe this will signal a positive turning point for our football and a major step forward in our bid to create a conducive environment for its sustainability, viability and profitability.

”The Nigeria Football Federation, the body charged with the development of our football is directed to own and commence the implementation of this master plan under the supervision of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.”

The president, who reviewed the state of the round leather game in the country, expressed concern that in the past years, football development had gradually stunted due to the neglect of the core orientation of football administration.

He described the governance structure around Nigeria’s domestic league as weak, adding that ”standards are conveniently compromised.”

He, however, expressed delight that these issues and many more have been addressed in the Document.

The president, therefore, urged the NFF to salvage the domestic league at all levels, saying:

”Nigeria’s football development must return to the path of focus on grassroots and youth development and an overall good governance structure around every level of its development. Nigeria now expects results,” he urged.

On the forthcoming NFF executive election, Buhari reiterated his earlier communication to the body on the need for a more equitable and democratic representation in the Congress of the NFF.

According to him, this will ensure that critical stakeholders are not shut out and the most capable and competent men and women are elected to run the affairs of the Federation.

”This government has demonstrated political will. It will match it up with making the right laws and investments and work with critical stakeholders.

”I thank FIFA for its support and commitment to the development of Nigerian football which has been longstanding.

”I trust it will partner with Nigeria in its effort to improve the fundamentals of its football development,” he said.

In his remarks, the Sports Minister announced that the Buhari administration had disbursed over N15 billion to NFF through budgetary appropriations and Presidential interventions in the last seven years.

He commended the president for the attention given to football development in the country and laying a solid foundation for the growth of the game.

The minister described the 10-year Masterplan, which took the Ibrahim Galadima -led 16-member Committee six months to prepare, as ”a world class document.”

He said the prescriptions set forth in the Football Masterplan, if followed through with the needed will and determination, would set Nigeria’s football on a very sure footing and position it amongst the best in the world.

He added that the implementation of the Plan would resolve most issues around the status of the domestication of Nigerian laws, NFF Statutes in line with FIFA Statutes and create room for harmonious relationships in the football value chain of this country.

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