Sunday Dare, and other stakeholders to fine-tune strategies on how to achieve a more youth-inclusive nation.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday reassured Nigerian youths that he will offer his full support to see them grow in politics, and other endeavours, admitting the crucial role of young people in the development of the country.
‘‘While I will be looking forward to a more robust engagement with young people across the country, I wish to emphasize to you all that in me, you have a major supporter,” Buhari said during a virtual meeting with youths of the All Progressive Congress (APC) held at the State House, Abuja.
“I will offer you my full support to grow in politics, public service, entertainment, entrepreneurship and many other sectors because I know that the future we envisage as a country cannot happen without our youths.”
The 78-year-old Nigerian leader who is in his second term in office told the youths that he will be working closely with the Youths and Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, and other stakeholders to fine-tune strategies on how to achieve a more youth-inclusive nation.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare believes the sporting community will benefit a lot from the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF).
In an interview with Channels Sports, Mr. Dare explained that the initiative provides accelerated access for those in the sports sector who are entrepreneurs or active in the business space to get funding that will support their enterprise, ideas, and innovations.
The Federal Executive Council, on July 22, approved the establishment of the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF).
A minimum of N25 billion each year in the next 3 years making a total of N75 billion will be required for the project.
For the remaining part of 2020, an initial sum of N12.5 billion will be needed to kick start the process.
It is expected that successive governments will keep the fund alive
”To a very large extent, our youths engage in sports,” he said. “When you look at the sports value chain, beyond just being an active athlete, there is a value chain in the sporting industry.
“For instance, football, the merchandise – football boots, jerseys stockings, football itself, tennis rackets etc. If we find our youths, and many of them are involved in the process. Those that can produce sneakers and other sporting products can step forward, present their ideas with their business plans, and access the funds that we have in NYIF. I think that’s an opportunity for our youths in the sporting sector.”
The Minister added that NYIF comes to compliment several other government programmes that are youth-focused at different levels within different ministries and departments of government.
”We think that clearly across the world, the only way you can really address and bring down the numbers of youth unemployment is by turning them into entrepreneurs,” he said.
“To do that, you must invest in their ideas, invest in the plans they have, support their enterprises. So we thank president Buhari for approving this, with the entirety of the federal executive council members who stood solidly behind the Nigerian youths.
”Several of our youths are also involved in other sectors. We have seen the explosive potentials of our youths on the global stage. Most of them are snatched up by other counties who easily make credit available for them, venture capitalists.
“This time, Nigeria is taking a risk in putting its money behind the ideas of the youths and we saying its time to improve on their local contents and the country is ready to invest.”
The fund aims to reach 500,000 youths annually between 2020 and 2023.
Each fund approval will range from N250,000 to N50 million, with a spread across group applications, working capital loans set at one year, and term loans set at three years with a single-digit interest rate of 5%.
COVID-19: Blessing In Disguise? The Minister agrees, to some extent, that the pause in sporting activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic has actually given a bit of a breather to step back and try to see how the ministry can re-plan and revamp some of its efforts.
“The window provides a good opportunity for reflection and improvise on ways to get better,” he said. “But the ministry admits the pandemic also brings a constant worry.
”On the part of the athletes who have prepared for either the sports festival or the Olympics, it’s been really a downturn for them because most of them have prepared long and hard for these competitions, most of them earn their pay and revenue from competing and we have had to struggle with those two aspects, the athletes getting rusty, the fact that their streams of income have been blocked.
“That’s been two twin challenges we’ve had to deal with and I think that to a large extent, the response of the ministry of Youth and Sports to an extent through the ad hoc palliative we had, the response of the IOC, the response of the world athletics, FIFA and other bodies have gone a long way to bring succour to sportsmen and women across the world, particularly Nigerians. That gladdens our hearts.
“But there are a few lessons learned, we’ve stepped back to response in a proactive way to the Covid-19 challenges.
“Sports, apart from the aviation industry, remains one of the hardest hit when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic and you’ll recall that it is sports that took the first bold step in this country to shut down the national sports festival in a proactive response to stop the spread of Covid-19 in Nigeria”, he confirmed.
Post Covid-19 Plans? The Ministry of Youth and Sports development has taken a couple of proactive steps just like other sectors of the economy.
Two weeks ago, they came up with a Covid-19 sports resumption protocol which was put together by the ministry and circulated among the sporting federations across the country for their input was benchmarked against similar sporting protocols of world athletics, IOC and even Fifa.
The comprehensive safety protocol document was submitted to the presidential task force set up by President Muhammadu Buhari on Covid-19.
On July 10, the Nigeria Football Federation in an online meeting agreed that full enforcement of licensing regulations and financial controls for the Nigeria Professional Football League will commence from the 2020/2021 season.
All clubs are required to comply, failing which they will be barred from participating.
The minister confirmed they support the move from the football body.
”We have decided to work with the NFF, we had quite a number of meetings,” he said. “The NFF executive body, finally based on the elections held with club owners decided that we should end the league season so that we have enough time to prepare to start the next season, 2020/2021.
“We hope that the intervening period we have will give us time, will give the NFF time and our football clubs to get their players, managers, and coaches to imbibe the Covid-19 protocols, put together in place the Covid-19 infrastructure that is needed to return to the domestic football league.
“But more importantly, to bring back the licensing conditions and regulations that are necessary because we are entering a new regime in which all licensing conditions in the books for our domestic clubs must be enforced to the latter. Such that if we are going to end up with eight clubs, I think we are ready. We want to put a value on the clubs, we want to put value on our players, we want to make sure that our league in this country starts to be at par with what we see in the EPL, La Liga, and Bundesliga’.”
The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, says there are expectations that the National Sports Festival will still hold this year.
Mr Dare revealed this on Monday when he featured as a guest on Media TV (known to Noble Reporters Media)
“Our expectation is that it happens this year, and I take my cue from the meeting of the national council on sports that is the highest sports decision making body in the country,” the minister said when asked about the possibility of hosting the sporting event.
He further disclosed that the council had a meeting about 3 months ago and unanimously agreed that the sports festival should hold in 2020.
According to the minister, an 11-man committee was constituted immediately after the council meeting and the committee afterwards went on to inspect facilities in Benin, the Edo State capital.
Asides checking to ascertain quality of sporting infrastructure, the committee also checked the COVID-19 infrastructure in place to see how the protocols are set out.
The committee had a report ready in thirty days which was submitted to the monitoring and implementation committee for review and is still being looked at.
In the same vein, the minister confirmed that there are plans in place to ensure the gradual return of about eight non-contact sports in the country with strict compliance to COVID-19 protocol.
Mr Dare said the Federal Government plans to return the national stadium in Surulere, Lagos State to its original blueprint.
He said previous administrations abandoned the national asset for two decades.
“We intend to return the National Stadium, Surulere to its original blueprint. We intend to make sure that every illegal structure that has been put in place that is not part of the blueprint will be removed,” he said.
Dare noted that the move is necessary in order to create room for individuals interested in concessioning the stadium.
He explained that the Ministry has approached billionaire businessman and philanthropist, Kessington Adebutu, who has agreed to fix some key facilities in the stadium pending when the concession process is being completed.
“We are also looking at Adopt a Sports Centre and a Pitch. We have approached Chief Kessington Adebutu who has agreed to make available half a billion naira to start fixing some of the key facilities in the stadium.
“I think that will help because that can open a slight window to make some of the facilities in Surulere to be functional,” he said
Youth and Sports Development Minister Mr Sunday Dare has described the death of Senator Robert Koleosho as very sad, shocking, and a huge loss to Nigeria at large and Oyo state in particular.
According to Dare ”I received the news of the death of Senator Koleosho with deep shock and sadness.
He was not just a politician, he was devotedly committed to the peace, unity and development of Oyo State and Nigeria in general. He served Oyo state and the people with all his heart.
He was a rear breed politician of repute who built bridges across the length and breath of the political landscape.
His death is not only untimely, but has left a huge vacuum in the political space in his constituency, Oyo State and Nigeria in general. His immense contributions to the social, political and economic growth of Oyo state can never be forgotten.
My prayer is that God will console his family, Oyo State, his friends and associates and Nigeria in general. May his soul rest in perfect peace” Dare declared.
Senator Koleosho who hailed from Saki represented Oyo North Senatorial District in the Senate between 2003-2007.
He reportedly died at the University of Ibadan Teaching Hospital, UCH, on Thursday where he was hospitalized since January.
Senator Koleosho is elder brother to Chief Micheal Koleosho who served as Secretary to the Oyo State Government under Governor Lam Adesina.