President Muhammadu Buhari has surprised those who think his administration will not accord sports priority by approving funds to ensure preparations ahead of the 2015 All African Games.
The Director General of the National Sports Commission, Alhassan Yakmut confirmed yesterday after addressing the athletes undergoing training.
The All African Games is holding in Congo Brazzaville from September 4 to 19, 2015. This is a clear departure from the usual practice of releasing funds two weeks to a major international event.
An excited Yakmut promised to release the approved figure to the public in line with ‘Change Agenda’ which promotes transparency in governance.
“Mr. President has just approved the funds for the All African Games and I understand we shall be formally informed on Tuesday.
“So, as soon as we get the information about the exact figure approved from the budget we submitted, we will make it open to the public because we intend to run a very transparent administration.
“ And I think by the time we finish computing all what we have done in the last three months, we are going to say how much has been spent on each item of the projects that we have executed including the Federations.
“And I am sure that you have noticed that the Federations are beginning to feel the public funding scheme especially the ones regarding the All African Games,” Yakmut added.
According to him, apart from the 19 sports that Nigeria will participate in, two other sports namely swimming and gymnastics have been placed on standby in the event that there would be athletes that are exceptionally good to represent the country in the two sports.
To ensure that athletes have the best preparations, Yakmut said that the Federations that have requested for foreign technical support would have them.
The Director General spoke further on this, “We are taking part in 19 events and two other events that are actually on standby. If we have pockets of athletes that are exceptionally good like gymnastic and swimming, we will carry them on their merit.
“Regarding technical aid, in fact we are in global technical business and we cannot reduce ourselves to a situation that no matter how bad our coaches are, we must sustain and retain them.
“What we have done is to support the four federations that have requested that they will need technical back-ups from foreign countries.
“So, wrestling has requested for two back-ups either from Europe, the United States or Canada. Table tennis has also requested fat technical support from Sweden, China or Japan.
Already, South Korea is supporting us on taekwondo and basketball has already recruited transparently.
“All these we are doing to make sure that we don’t leave technical opportunities unattended to,” Yakmut assured.