*We may compel companies to support sports in Nigeria
By Olayinka Elebute and Oluwole Francis
Member of the House of Representatives’ committee on sports representing Kano Municipal Federal Constituency Hon. Abubakar Nuhu Danburam spoke with gongnews.net in an interview. We bring you the excerpts:
You’re part of the brain behind the League Management Company (LMC) years ago. What is Hon Danburam’s assessment of the LMC in recent years.
Let me give thanks to almighty Allah. So far so good we’ve been able to witness improvement with the league as well as the administration of it. Some years back, you’ll recall the issue that were at stake including that we couldn’t even start the league. The court issues, a lot of issues which affected NFF and football administration entirely at the local level.
So in the wisdom of NFF at that time they decided to set up what we now have as LMC today. Yes, I was part of it at that time. I recall I was just sitting in my office in Kano then, I was a commissioner and I received the call by the former NFF president who wanted me to please serve under this committee and he made it clear to me if I’m open to it that it’s a sacrifice. There was no money and would even appreciate if we could help get wealthy Nigerians who could invest in the league because the league doesn’t even have the money to kick off.
I remember we came together and we had to look for money within ourselves so that the league could start. So, I’m happy that things have gotten very well now. Most of those issues have been put behind. What we’re looking at now is to make the league better in terms of officiating, full administration and even funding because it’s key.
We’re also trying to see how we can make football to be the way it is in other countries. Where we know football is a money making machine. In Nigeria, people will then look at it as a way of livelihood and government will take hands off it.
That dovetails into why we are now working towards passing the bill of the NFF to give full independence to work without interference from any quarters. I’m happy that the management of the LMC there now have not derailed from the initial vision we had. They’re still working within that framework. One key issues there is, the issue of officiating. Improvement are coming with sanctions being applied irrespective of who is involved.
You mentioned LMC. Last year Rangers FC of Enugu won the league after 32 years. This concluded season, Plateau United FC of Jos won for the first time. So can we say we’re there or we’re still far away?
We can say that we’re still working towards where we want to be. I’m happy to see that we now see teams go away and win away from home. Before it doesn’t happen like that. Every team safeguards itself at home. We also know that there is corruption within the league. Those are things we’re working to see how we can reduce and eliminate them. You can’t eliminate anything completely in a day.
You first see how you can curtail and reduce and that’s what we’re working towards. That’s why you see things changing with refereeing. Even at the international level, you’re beginning to see different changes like the VAR, goal line technology, assistant referee again.
These are things that are coming. We cannot separate ourselves from what is attainable globally. Before matches were not on TV but now we’re having them. Now we’re working towards showing all the matches. So, there’s no place for mischief makers to hide now with these developments.
Looking at Nigeria qualifying for the world cup, we just have 90 minutes from getting a ticket against Zambia because we’re not there yet. What does Hon Danburam think are our chances and what do you think we need to do because we’re not there yet?
I think every Nigerian should be positive. For me with this team and what I saw from the last game, if we keep that level of momentum, then that 90 minutes you’re saying, yes, we’re really 90 minutes away. I know the Zambians will come for do or die. I’m happy we’re not go into the match with some kind of pressure. Yes, we want to be there, but the pressure will be more on Zambians.
I know every player on the list is more enthusiastic to go to the world cup. No player in the world doesn’t want to go the world cup. Players are measured by even their participation at the world cup and what they achieve at the world cup. Players are not judged by what they achieve in the league, but every player wants to wear the shirt of his country and be seen.
For them they know the importance of winning that game and they’re going to go all out. For Nigerians, all we need to do is to pray for them and give them the full support because they’ll need it.
You promised the House of Representatives will resolve the crisis in the NBBF. We want to know how far you have gone because the FIBA instruction is that before 30th November there must be order in Nigerian basketball.
Yes, I mentioned it to you that when we’re back it’s one of the House of Representatives agenda we’re going to look at. By next week, insha Allah, it’s one of the things that will be presented before the House and the House will take a decision.
What is the House doing to support sports in Nigeria? Because we have a situation where teams don’t participate in tournaments due to lack of funds. What is being done to have that maximum support?
You know the government has executive and legislative arms. I’m on the legislative arm. Mine is to ensure that we bring in laws that will ensure those things you raise like how we’ll bring in good funding to federations are done. How do we ensure these things are done? It’s to ensure that the laws that will empower these things are in place.
Within the next two weeks, we’ll do the hearing on the NFF bill which will give them independence. That will resolve all crises in football. It’ll die naturally. The issue of the NBBF, that why we are trying to bring back the National Sports Commission. The bill is also before us. Once that is done, sports will no longer be under the ministry but under the presidency. The funds we’re giving to federations will go straight to the federations instead of the ministry. Ministry will remain as ministry of Youths no longer sports.
Hon Danburam, I grew up seeing corporate organisations sponsoring sports events but all that has changed in Nigeria. They’re no longer involved. What you think you need to do, how do you think we can bring them back to come support sports?
One of the bills we’re looking at, although, still at discussion stage is how to bring private organisations to come and support sports. If you look at countries like India, they have a law that organisations have a percentage of their income targeted at supporting sports. Also looking at adverts, companies like to go out to use bigger sports men and women for adverts in the country but there will be a percentage charged that will be going directly to our own grassroots development. We are looking at the law because sometimes you have to compel them.
Look at our league how many of the teams are sponsored by private companies? If you go to South Africa that’s what the companies do. We should have a league that’s we’ll funded by the private sector. We cannot continue to have companies make money in Nigeria and our sports are not benefiting. Maybe we’ve to compel them like India.
Today, we’re crying that Anthony Joshua boxing champion is a Nigerian but not representing Nigeria but he couldn’t get the support from Nigeria. We should support our athletes to excel.