VENTURES AFRICA – On March 28, Nigerians made a historic choice. For the first time ever, an incumbent President suffered defeat at the polls in what many regard a milestone moment in Nigeria’s democracy. Already, many analysts are reporting on what President-Elect Muhammadu Buhari’s emergence will mean for the country’s politics and economy. In what appears to be a first sign of progress, market indices improved rapidly after the announcement of Buhari’s victory as Nigeria’s all-share index jumped 8.3 percent. With financial experts suggesting that the markets will be more responsive to a Buhari Presidency even before the polls, it appears the positive gains in the market could be long-term.
Whilst economic experts break down possible effects of a Buhari presidency on Nigeria’s polity and economy, we take a deeper look at what impact it might on the country’s sporting sector.
Buhari has previously served as Nigeria’s leader with a two year stint at the helm of affairs between 1983 and 1985. In that period, despite his disposition as a military dictator, Buhari was notably keen on meritorious appointments in key positions. Having returned as a reformed democrat, it is unlikely that the man fondly referred to as the People’s General will deviate from the norm. This is excellent news for the sports sector as given the right appointments and the emphasis on following due process and protocol, Nigeria’s sports sector could be set to witness its most stable and qualified leadership in years. Over time, one of the main reservations of insiders has been the relative lack of professional expertise in sports administration among the upper brass of decision makers in Nigeria’s sports industry. But with the possibility of appointments based less on political leanings and more of qualifications and merit, a lack of direction and vision could well be a thing of the past.
Corruption and spending
Just as it has bedeviled other sectors of Nigeria, corruption has stalled development in Nigerian sports. A lack of accountability has consistently meant that funding has been shambolic while whatever progress was made in corporate partnership was shrouded in questionable secrecy. One of Buhari’s famous governance policies is zero tolerance of corruption and again, this is excellent news for the industry. Not only will there be funds but those in charge of these funds will be accountable for them and when need be, will be held accountable for irregular activity. History is replete with national teams being underfunded while ministry officials live luxuriously but if history is anything to go by, all that will be nonexistent under Buhari. In the event that funds are provided and distributed when due, various sporting federations can rapidly enjoy growth and development.
With the aforementioned in place, a Buhari presidency could well set the stage for strategy to thrive. Long-term planning and strategy requires the alignment of various factors but with vision and direction from qualified leaders and financial discipline across board, whatever set goals will have far higher chances of being achieved. One of the main focus areas of the central strategy team will be to develop a multi-sports economy. Nigeria is historically a football nation and this has led to the neglect of other sports. Forward thinking nations, however skilled and popular their national football teams may be, have taken to ensuring equitable development across various sports as this has a ripple effect on the sports economy. First, there is wider infrastructural development with a larger pool of athletes coming through training programs. With proper nurturing, talented athletes can emerge as professionals and compete on bigger platforms. The development of multiple sports also means the provision of jobs for various coaching and administrative professionals in the field and can also lead to more possibilities for corporate partnership. Perhaps if in need of ideas, the new leaders of the strategy can look to South Africa who have had excellent results in their sports sector which various sports- cricket, rugby, football, basketball, golf and cycling- all thriving not just in sporting terms but also financially. Africa’s largest sports economy, without doubt, is South Africa’s but Nigeria- with the right thinking- can rival it.
The good news for sports industry insiders and enthusiasts is that a Buhari presidency means exactly that- a new beginning.
Source: New feed25