Sports deserve huge share of FG’s COVID-19 palliative, stakeholder tells CBN

An Ibadan-based frontline sports enthusiast, Mr. Michael Sodeke, has lamented the neglect of the sports sector in the Federal Government’s effort at combating the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

In a letter addressed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, copied to the Secretary to the Federal Government and the Sports Minister, Sodeke lamented that the vital status of sports in the country had been downgraded, describing it as a grave injustice to the corporate comfort of Nigeria at this uncertain time.

The letter dated May 4, 2020, reads in part: “The Federal Government released a 251-page document in 2010 titled ‘Nigeria 20:2020’, which encompassed key sectors of the country. But the sports sector was left out, despite its unifying and nation-building factor.

“A 140-page document was also launched by the FG in 2017 titled ‘Economic recovery and growth path: 2017-2020’ and once again, the
sports sector was not captured, despite the billions of naira budgets allocated to the Ministry of Sports and Social Development annually.”

Sodeke, who recalled that about N3 billion was invested in the Nollywood industry in 2013 by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, contended that the fund helped to turn around the entertainment industry as a key sector of the economy.

“Nollywood now competes well in the African market as a result and a few exceptional artistes have taken their talent to the global level.

“The Central Bank or the government cannot be talking about diversifying from oil and continue to neglect the sports sector that has a huge capacity to resuscitate the health, power and road sectors, as well as empower millions of people with jobs,” he added.

“I am particularly concerned that the $2.7billion stimulus released by the Central Bank to aid the agriculture, oil, banking and the IT sectors in view of the prevailing COVID-19 still excluded the sports sector and this makes me wonder the country continues to treat sports with levity,” he added.

Sodeke appealed to the Federal Government to redress the situation for the sports sector with a view to making its COVID-19 intervention impactful.

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