President Muhammadu Buhari is optimistic that with better organization Nigeria football has the potential to rival those in Europe and other parts of the world with better organization.
The Nigerian leader said this on Friday when the Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, and the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick visited him at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
‘‘I want to see Nigeria’s football develop and move in a more dynamic trajectory from football administration to youth and grassroots football, talent hunt, and use of Nigeria’s home-based talents,” Buhari said, according to a statement by his media aide, Femi Adesina.
‘‘Nigeria also needs a more privatized and better-organised football regime that can rival others in Europe and America.’’
While calling on corporate bodies to invest in sports development, Buhari assured of his government’s resolve to turn sports into business, noting that
the expected reviewed Sport Industry Policy ‘‘will be the catalyst that turns football activities associated with it into key contributors to the national economy.’’
Buhari who once again congratulated the NFF president on his election into the FIFA Executive Council assured him of Nigeria’s support in his new position.
The 78-year-old expressed optimism that Pinnick’s new post ‘‘will provide benefits that will lead to the advancement of football in Africa and Nigeria.’’
Buhari also urged the football body to work with the Sports Ministry and other football stakeholders to give the country a 10-year Football Master Plan that will ensure youth football development.
‘‘The position on the Council of the world’s football governing body, FIFA, comes at a time when Nigeria is determined to turn the fortunes of her sports development around through better infrastructure, more investment both public and private government incentives,” he explained.
‘Without prejudice to the continental nature of your assignment at the Council, I urge you to use your position to ensure Nigeria’s sporting image receives a boost.”
The Minister who lauded Buhari for backing sports development in the country and for approving the reclassification of sports as a business, instead of mere recreation, assured that a new draft policy on the sports industry and a 10-year master plan for football at all levels will soon be ready.
On his part, Pinnick thanked Buhari for his support for football in Nigeria.
‘‘Without you, I couldn’t have won election into FIFA Council. Your name is highly respected across the continent,” the NFF chief said, promising that ‘‘I will use the office to build Nigerian football, in conjunction with the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.’’