“Okonjo-Iweala is not in charge of repositioning Nigerian sports” – Sports Minister debunks media reports

by Stanley Azuakola

Nigeria’s minister of sports, Bolaji Abdullahi has debunked claims by some newspapers that President Goodluck Jonathan has appointed minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to head a committee charged with repositioning Nigerian sports and to “return its lost glory”.

A statement released by the minister’s special adviser (media), Julius Ogunro, stated that the reports are “a clear misrepresentation of the comments and directives of Mr. President”.

According to the statement, during a presentation by Abdullahi at the Federal Executive Council Meeting of September 5th, 2012, he talked about the performance of Team Nigeria at the London 2012 Olympics, outlined strategies for greater performance in the future, and especially highlighted the absence of decent football pitches for quality training. The minister also “lamented about the deplorable state of the National Stadium in Abuja and the inadequacy of sports infrastructure across the country”.

Consequently, President Jonathan set up an ad-hoc committee, made up of the minister of sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi; CME and minister of Ffnance, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala; minister of FCT, Bala Mohammed; minister of national planning, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman, and the director-general of the National Sports Commission, Dr. Patrick Ekeji to come up with strategies on the renovation and management of the National Stadium in Abuja.

Later that evening, at his visit to the Super Eagles who were training at the National Stadium, Abuja, the president reiterated the directive when the issue of poor infrastructure came up again.

Abdullahi said that he believes that it is this presidential directive which was misrepresented by a section of the press as a ‘committee to reform Nigerian sports’ saying that such a committee was not set up and hence does not exist.

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