By Adewale Ajayi
He is dogged, he is dominant, determined and undeterred.
He is fearless, focused, forward looking and with a fighting spirit.
His name, Akinlabi means we have given birth to a strong son, that may also literally mean that he was a warrior from birth.
Olaniyi simply means that wealth is glory while you can be forgiven for thinking that the name Dare means a man who dares to succeed where others dread to tread.
Ever since his appointment as Nigeria sports minister, Sunday Dare has performed excellently where his predecessors failed woefully.
Daily, he has continued to write his name in gold by shunning out excellent achievements that has left his critics dumbfounded.
In the midst of these outstanding brilliancy he has maintained high level humility and calmness, preferring to give Nigerians a chance to judge him rather than blowing his trumpet.
He mounted the podium as Nigeria sports minister in August 2019 few weeks to the All Africa games but he rose to the ocassion like a scout that is always prepared and led Team Nigeria to a second place finish with 46 gold, 33 Silver and 48 Bronze medals at the 12th All Africa Games in Rabat, Morocco. In all, the nation’s athletes amassed a total of 127 medals.
In October 2019, Dare held a meeting with the federation presidents to review Nigeria’s outing at the All Africa games and the inauguration of the ministerial Olympic committee that identified the eleven sports team Nigeria will participate in, at the Tokyo Olympic games was indeed very timely.
Despite his success at the All Africa Games, Sunday Dare did not return home to sleep, he hosted the president of the International Olympic Committee IOC Thomas Bach in November and followed that up with the completion and commissioning of the ANOCA headquarters in Abuja. This came after 10 years of deliberate abandonment.
Still in the spirit of the Olympic games, Sunday Dare and his always innovative team at the sports ministry came up with the Adopt An Athlete initiative which seeks to convince corporate organizations and private individuals to invest their money on Nigeria Olympic hopefuls in their buildup to the Tokyo Olympic games.
Turning sports into viable business engagements have been the focus of the Nigerian government at all levels and Dare was always at the forefront of making this dream a reality
Perception is everything and Dare has spent the last 8 months working to change the negative perception to a positive one. He has gotten corporate Nigerias to give sports a second look. A new sports engineering is on course to change the face of Nigeria sports and to everyone doing business with the sector the confidence that the much needed change has finally come.
He waded into the lingering crisis in Basketball and Athletics and has cleverly brought sanity to both federations while in football, he has allowed the anti graft agencies do their job as regard the various corruption charges against chieftains of the NFF while he concentrates on putting in place policies that will move the sport forward.
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, while other ministries stayed away for fear of the virus, Dare and his men went about visiting families of Ex Nigerian footballers and athletes and planting a seed in their lives to restore some smiles.
As at the last count, Dare hands of compassion has touched the aged mothers of former Nigerian footballers Samuel Okwaraji and Rashidi Yekini both of whom got 50,000 Naira each from the ministry with a pledge of an additional 10,000 naira monthly made.
The likes of Sunday Bada, Ali Jeje and Sunday Eboigbe have also recieved their share of the minister’s palliatives
As Sunday Dare marks 54 years in office, Nigerians will continue to appreciate him for a job well done. The man many love to call Bonanza or SD has totally tranaformed Nigeria sports from a gathering of adventure seekers to a seriously business minded sector where everyone is now thinking of innovations on how to make Nigeria a strong competitor among the committee of nations