I see a great future for People with disability in Nigerian sports – Ankeli
*You will earn well, live well an proud to be Nigerians
*Buhari is so passionate about us, will host Rio Olympic patriots
It is a global fact that anywhere in the world, no government can spnd the kind of monies in sports. Two, the biggest source of income for sports is in the community. Three, as people with disabilities, it is not sympathy we curry but actions to enhance our humanity and innate abilities.
So, when I heard of an organisation called Nigeria Sports Development Fund Inc (NSDFI) setting up and advocating everywhere for a Nigeria Sports Development Fund, I also made further inquiries and demanded a similar structure from them for para-Sports.
Today, to the glory of God we have our own structure propelled from my office but with its own independent governance structure. It is a completely private-sector driven agency.
From a government perspective, there was very little involvement Nigeria had a unit with disability sport until the 1980s. Good enough, 1981 was declared the ‘International Year of Disabled Persons’ and a number of government reviews were conducted to assess the needs of disabled persons.
The Commonwealth Government established a National Committee on Sport and Recreation for the Handicapped which later became the National Committee on Sport and Recreation for the Disabled (NCSRD) to advise the Minister of sport on the priority areas for development and allocation of funds for sport and recreation for persons with a disability.
Today, due to increasing reality of scarce funds, sports has been worse. Disability sports is in more difficult streams. My office has been inundated with several calls for action but as a part of government, I know the situation in-house.
So, when the concession for the Nigeria Para-Sports Development Fund was granted, I was the happiest Nigerian. Many thanks to my brother, Brigadier General Lonsdale Adeoye (retired).
With this institution, we look at raising local, community, national and international grants into the fund. If every Nigerian that God has blessed with good health, life and hope will drop a paltry N100.00 to this fund, we will be having N1.6billion!
We don’t and wouldn’t need that scarce government fund. With such monies, we can organise several structures that will generate new employment opportunities for PWDs.
It is our ambition to make the Nigeria Para-Sports Development Fund not less than N10billion minimum by the end of this 2017 sports season. We intend to start five leagues in disability sports next year. Each league will be funded to the tune of N100million.
The increase in the sports activities of PWD will be achieved. Para-Sports athletes will be able to earn and go home with millions by demonstrating ability. Many will become reporters in which media houses can employ and pay to report local and international sports. Many can even become freelance writers with international media organisations.
Many can become researchers, statisticians, PWD accessory sellers, masseurs, umpires, referees etc They will get paid and can even further employ able bodied persons to be of service to them.
We have the Willing and Able programme, aimed at helping teachers to integrate children with a disability into school sport programmes. This will start in 2018. This Disability Education Programme will be established to provide sporting opportunities for people with specific disabilities or to support a disabled component of a generic sport. They will continue to play a role in the delivery of sport to persons with a disability.
Quickly, let me diversify. I read of the frustrations of my sister, Lauretta Onye. At personal level, don’t despair. For athletes who were in the 2016 Paralympic Games, I know for sure that President Muhammadu Buhari has a great plan for you. I want us to appreciate that this is the first President to appoint a PWD as an SSA.
Two, he is very passionate about PWD issues. I am aware of the great plans in government to appreciate you. Incidentally, each time paralympians go out to represent the nation, you have done extremely well where the able bodied have woefully failed. Your outing in Rio was for weeks the talk of the town. Rather than be discouraged and frustrated, intensify more efforts. With our own plans alone, we are victors. I know we can do it and we shall do it.
By February 2017, we hall activate the structures that will pursue and deliver the Nigeria Para Sports Development Fund. Every Nigerian should endeavor to put their mite in it. We shall do all we can to use that platform to make every PWD in the nation better, stronger and a leader. We shall create millionaire athletes out of you. We shall give new jobs estimated at 75,894 bby next year.
We are also going to explore and exploit all international organisations and grant-giving agencies that can put in some funds therein. This fund belongs to us. We all must advocate for it. We will approach the two chambers of the National Assembly as the starting point of our advocacy. We shall enter every board room of Corporate Nigeria. This dream must come to pass.
There is a plan for a biennial Nigerian Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Games from 2018 as the first domestic multi-sport competition to provide opportunities for inter-state competition and serve as a vehicle for selection of athletes onto teams for the Paralympic Games and the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games.
This is our chance, we all must rise, advocate, canvass, lobby, institutionalise our funding base and we shall never be the same again. I urge everyone here to see the bigger picture and focus on getting there. No one will deliver this for us. We are the strength of our faith. We must drive the engine to run at the speed of the dream we have.
Let me also congratulate the initiators of the Nigeria Para-Shooting Federation for this wonderful time of your coming to life. I wish to see, read, follow and hear of the hauls of medals you will be bringing to Nigeria in Tokyo 2020. You are coming at a time when the future starts to look so radiant and bright for funding of para sports in the country.
For the Paralympic Committee of Nigeria, I commend where you are coming from. I also congratulate you with the initiatives from this office. This will stimulate your goals and activities and we all must work for the glory of the land that God has so immensely blessed, Nigeria.
Let me thank you for carefully listening to me.
Being the speech delivered at titled: “Institutionalisation of private sector funding for para sports in Nigeria as a vehicle for job creation for PWDs” by Dr Samuel Ankeli, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Disability Matters (SSADP) at the seminar of the Nigeria Para Shooting Federation on 18th January 2017 in Abuja.