Nigeria: Lagos Blazes The Trail, As Femi Pedro-Led Sports Trust Fund Begins Operations
By Taiwo Adelu
Lagos, May 12, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Lagos State has once again demonstrated as the leading state when it comes to sports in Nigeria when the Board of Lagos State Sports Trust Fund unveiled its programmes meant to pump in more funds into development of sports at all level in the commercial city of Nigeria.
The Governor of the state, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode had in 2017 signed into law establishing the Sports Trust Fund with the inauguration of the Board headed by the former Deputy Governor of Lagos, Chief Femi Pedro in March, 2018.
Regarded as the first in Nigeria and even in Sub Saharan Africa, the Sports Trust Fund will cater for all-round funding of sports in the state, making the sector free from paucity of funds occasioned by inadequate budgetary provisions.
Pedro said at the unveiling media round table held at the Corporate Office in the heart of business city of Lagos, the Victoria Island that “This Sports Trust Fund is the first of its kind in sub-Sahara Africa. It is therefore imperative that we build a solid foundation for its existence. In the last few months, we have painstakingly embarked on strategic exercise to craft our vision, mission and core values. We have also developed our fund raising and communication strategies and established our corporate governance principles, organisation structure and operating model. We now set to commence our core business of creating adequate funding for sports development and manage these funds effectively.”
The choice of Pedro, who had spent most of his time in the private sector in the banking world and most recently director in various business ventures, is a round peg in round hole.
Organised private sector in Nigeria has over the years shunned putting their hard earned money into sports sponsorships due to bad management. Pedro, however, assured that funds contributed to the Sports Trust Fund are in safe hands, adding that “the Core Values of the Trust Fund are Trust, Innovation, Collaboration, Accountability, Resourcefulness, Excellence, Integrity, and Inclusiveness. These we want to use to woo and collaborate with the private sector, non profit organisations, sports equipment manufacturers, sports betting companies, donor agencies, high net worth individuals, high profile elites athletes, media organisations and the public,” he said.
Alternative Africa reports that apart from the private sector and other sources which the Sports Trust Fund will generate its capital, its operations will be financed through Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, while the law setting it up has also mandated that 10 percent of funds generated in the lucrative lottery business by the Lagos State Lottery Board and one percent of the Internal Generated Revenues of all the Local Governments in the state be paid into the Trust Fund.
“We want to propel Lagos to become the leading sports hub in Africa,” Pedro said while allaying the fear that the change in government from 29 May, 2019 when the present Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode will hand over to Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu won’t affect the operations of the Sports Trust Fund.
“We already have a five-year blueprint for the Lagos State Sports Trust Fund. This means that even if there were to be change in the Board, this blueprint designed by experts during our Retreat held last year, will guide whoever comes in. There won’t be any change to the laudable plans we have on ground to change the face of sports in Lagos,” he said.
The Boards has also planned to build six sports facilities of Olympic standard in the state. They will be sited within the neighbourhoods. These facilities will cater for sports such as swimming, boxing, weightlifting, table tennis, tennis, wrestling and others. The essence of this, Pedro said, is to encourage the youths to take to sports and reduce all sort of social vices in the society.
“We have received the permission of the Governor of Lagos to regenerate and refurbished to world standard the famous Mobolaji Johnson Sports Centre, Rowe Park, Yaba. We planned to turn the complex to an edifice which will be cynosure of all eyes in sports.
The facilities at the Rowe Park will be upgraded to what we used to see in advanced countries and it will be opened to the public for use,” the former Deputy Governor said.
“We also have the plans to bring back to sports sponsorships conglomerates and multinational companies such as Mobil Oil, Bourvita, Guinness, Globacom, MTN and host of others which had dumped sponsoring sporting activities.
“Through the United States Embassy in Nigeria, we have opened talks with NIKE and Adidas to come in revamping sports equipment in Lagos Sports. The discussions have been very fruitful,” he said The Executive Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr. Kweku Adedayo Tandoh, a renowned sports administrator, noted that the Sports Trust Fund is an intervention agency which operations will add values to the jobs of the Commission.
“The Sports Trust Fund is an intervention agency which operations will give us at the Lagos State Sports Commission helping hands. The Sports Trust Fund is our big brother in terms of helping us with funding of many of our projects which can’t wait for budgetary allocations. When we are talking of infrastructural development and capacity building in Lagos sports, the
Trust Fund will ensure that we don’t lack anything. I believe that in the short and long runs lack of funding for many of our programmes will be a thing of the past,” he said.
Senior Sports Editors present at the round table event applauded Lagos State Government for coming up with the Sports Trust Fund to solve the problem of funding which has been an age long problem of sports in Nigeria.
They posited that though Nigeria is blessed with talented sports men and women, they have been facing the herculean tasks of meeting up with their counterparts abroad due to neglects by the authorities and poor funding.
“I am so glad that this is coming from Lagos. I can’t be surprised because Lagos is known for taking the lead when it comes to sports development in Nigeria,” said Peter Edema, Group Sports Editor of Daily Independent.
“Lagos has done what even the Federal Government at the centre cannot think of. I only pray that problem of continuity won’t derail this lofty project,” said Duro Ikhazuagbe, Sports Editor of ThsDay newspaper.
Debo Oshundun, Chairman of Sportswriter Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Lagos Chapter, who is also Manager, Sports at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said the calibre of people on the Board of the Sports Trust Fund and their prove track records in politics, business, legal, sports business and administration are pointers that Lagos has indeed blazed the trail.
Members of the Board include Dr. Kweku Adedayo Tandoh, the Executive Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission, Mr. Enitan Oshodi, former Lagos State Sports Commissioner for Sports and President International Table Tennis Federation, Africa-Western Region, Mr. Babatunde Bank-Anthony, Director General of Lagos State Sports Commission, Mrs. Omotola Essien,
Others are Chairperson of Lagos Mainland Local Government who is representing all Lagos local governments on the board, Mr. Kenneth Odusanya, a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN, Barrister Oladipo Awe, a foremost legal practitioner and consultant, Ms. Moyo Ogunseinde, chairman of Lagos State Gymnastics Association, Mr. koye Adejumo, a businessman of repute, Mr. Akin Ogunlana, an agro entrepreneur and retired public officer, Mr. Pandonu, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and the Executive Secretary of the Board, Mr. Olaposi Agunbiade.