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Nigerian Sports Struggling Without Private Sponsorship

Sports sponsorship which supposed to be fundamental to the growth of sports in Nigeria is dragging for lack of private inventiveness that requires the partnership with corporate Nigeria. ODIMEGWU ONWUMERE writes that this has left stakeholders in the industry with ranting

National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos

It is not a better time for stakeholders in the Nigerian sports industry.

They are cracking heads for a lasting solution to mend difficulties they are facing in dwindling interest of private sponsors in the sector.

Mr. Godwin Enakhena of sporting events of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM) Worldwide, to journalists, “Sadly, because government runs sports in Nigeria, the private clubs cannot compete with them.

“Government clubs have so much money to play around with and there is no accountability in most cases. Most private clubs cannot afford this luxury.

“Government owns the stadiums; they own the bodies that run sports in the country too.”

The stakeholders worry stems on the fact that while private sponsors in developed climes invest in sports for revenue generation through gate tickets and copyright, their Nigerian counterparts are looking the other way, not minding that sport is a lucrative business.

For instance, data has it that, “Sport is big business in the more dynamic societies. A recent PwC report estimated that in 2015 global sports sponsorship reached $45b – out of which Africa contributed less than $2b – with South Africa shelling out the lion share.

“A different report by Repucom estimates that global sponsorship could reach $62m by 2017. South African companies would again play a leading role in Africa after investing about 9m Rands (N243b) in sponsoring sports in 2016.”

The Nigerian authorities not taking sports as a business venture, has put the Nigerian athletes in the country into the corner therefore, they live below expectation unlike in Europe where sponsors of sporting clubs invest huge sums of money to get the best athletes for their clubs.

Equally, lack of private sponsors cut across sports in the country, not only in football. Just on February 18, 2019, the Vice President, Africa Taekwondo Federation (ATF), Nnaji Jonathan cried out that lack of sponsorship has drawn the development of sports in Nigeria backwards.

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In a chat with journalists for News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, Jonathan cried out of the need for corporate bodies to venture into sponsoring sports in the country. His tears were that the 2019 Nigeria International Taekwondo Open was far below expectation; and this boiled down to lack of sponsors.

According to Jonathan, “The Ministry of Youths and Sports should look inward and pay more attention and support sports federations. The NTF has a board that is willing to take taekwondo to the next level; the board has the willingness and the technical know-how to develop the sports in Nigeria.

“We cannot be running the game and grow it without sponsorship. The government in particular should put in place a system that will help individuals and corporate bodies to have interest in sports sponsorship. This is because without a good system, people will not be interested in funding sports.’’

Despite the fact that government is the major investor in the Nigerian sports, opinions are that funds released in the different sporting units go down the drain, leaving the purpose they were released, unattended to.

Given that government does not in earnest care about remuneration from those managing sports in Nigeria, the zest by the handlers is not like a businessman, handling his private business. However, the no-expectation of returns by the government, boxes it in a corner not to release funds to the appropriate authorities when such funds are needed. Jonathan said that most Nigerian taekwondo athletes in attendance during the competition were there through their individual endeavours, nobody sponsored them.

He said, “All those players that came here paid from their pockets, they paid thousands of naira to come here to compete, just to get a point. If you gather points, it makes you to go ahead in tournaments. Our people don’t have enough tournaments due to lack of sponsorship.’’

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A Former Director General of the defunct National Sports Commission (NSC), Dr Amos Adamu, seven months ago, told newsmen in Abuja that the country had no sponsorship spirit of sporting activities and this was affecting sports in the country.

According to him, “It is very difficult to get sponsorships for sports in Nigeria, because we do not have the culture to invest in this country. Companies do not see the necessity in sponsoring sports programmes.”

While the Youth and Sports signed an agreement with Greenfield Assets LTD to sponsor and promote the next five editions of the National Sports Festival (NSF) on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, in Abuja, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung said the Ministry approved Greenfield’s pitch given the dispiritedness of states to take up hosting rights of the NSF.

According to Dalung, “The prevailing low capacity and motivation of states to host the National Sports Festival is affecting its sustainability and value to the extent that the NSF is gradually getting moribund.

“It was against this background that Greenfield’s proposal for sponsorship and promotion of the NSF for the next 10 years was approved.

“It is a realistic and strategic option to leverage on private sectors’ capability to mobilize resources that will not only revitalize the NSF but make it more marketable, efficient, innovative and more profitable.”

Checks revealed that in most cases, institutions managing the different sports in the country do not operate even the minimum global standards and do not account for the correct figure of gate taking to sports handlers, but give bogus figures to the detriment of the handlers.

Former FIFA instructor, Adegboye Onigbinde, as according to news reports, said, “In Nigeria, we do not have one football club by FIFA regulations. FIFA regulation says that the governing body of any football club must be democratically elected.

“But among the clubs in the country, none conducted elections into their boards; be it Rangers of Enugu, Shooting Stars of Ibadan, Kano Pillars and the rest of them.

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“That is the more reason why our club football is suffering because ‘novices’ are the ones running the Nigeria Professional Football League with little or no knowledge of club administration.”

There have been such clubs like Abiola Babes, Shooting Stars, Nassarawa United, Iwuanyanwu National, Leventis and so on managed by private sponsors, but they have packed shop due to discouragement on the side of government. Against this backdrop, there are insinuations that unless the system in the country changed, private sponsors of sports would be aloof from the business.

The source added, “In 1984 or thereabout, I was in South Korea as part of FIFA’s delegation to that country. It was the period they were about to commence professional football league. In the conditions laid down for the prospective clubs, only three of them qualified and that was how the professional league got off with just three clubs.”

Those who know better however believe that there is no way sports in Nigeria can be like that of Europeans or South Africans but Nigeria can come some distance if large businesses like Dangote Group, Globacom, MTN, Airtel, First Bank, UBA, Ecobank, GT Bank, Zenith Bank, Union Bank, Shell, Mobil, Chevron, Forte Oil, Oando, Chi Group, Nestle, NB Plc, Shoprite, DSTV, Startimes, Julius Berger, invest a few billions every year in sports in the country; while public organisations like NNPC, NIMASA and NPA are asked to give N5b or more for the sporting activities in the country.

Chief Executive Officer of Greenfield Assets Mr Paul Obanua, “With this partnership, we shall create a bigger, wider and more inclusive festival open to mature and professional athletes, with robust management, marketing, sponsorship and promotion support base.”

Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. E-mail: apoet_25@yahoo.com

  • SOURCE: OoReporters

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Updated: June 26, 2019 — 9:28 pm

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