He is not the type that likes eating his words, if he must eat something, he has a rich dose of delicacies prepared by the best cooks with total patience, purpose and pride. But with the thrice postponed National sports festival, Nigeria sports minister, Sunday Dare already has his back to the wall as he seeks a way out of a unending logjam.
In the last two days, he has been running from Pillar to post to satisfy his conscience and please over 8,000 anxious athletes and officials who wake up daily waiting to know what tomorrow holds for them and their fluctuating future.
In a society full of the many uncertainties of life, sports has suddenly moved from being just a pastime, to a profession and means of livelihood and to imagine that another generation of budding talents could be wasted and allowed to rust and ruin because of the inability of the host state to stand up to the challenge of hosting or the failure of government to put their money where their mouth is, is another reason why many are worried.
The man at the middle of this raging storm is the Nigeria Minister of youth and Sports development, Sunday Dare who has consistently promised to deliver on his mandate and give the youths another great spectacle to savour.
Unfortunately, the Corona Virus Pandemic crept in unexpectedly and with it, came more uncertainties and huge spendings which is now threatening the hosting of the festival. The Edo state government pleaded for government intervention just few days to the initial date in February 2021 and that led to the postponement of the games but it is looking more likely that the proposed new date of April 2, 2021 might also turn a mirage.
Known for his doggedness and determination to always go against the tide, Dare is not relenting. In the last few days, he has kept vigil at the seat of power in Aso Rock, trying to make government see reasons with him as to why money must be released on time for the games. Same way, he is putting pressure on the host state hasten preparation ahead of the proposed official start date.
From the states, athletes and officials are intensifying preparation in readiness but with high fear that the games may not start on April 2nd as initially promised.
In the last few months, Sunday Dare must be commended for his efforts at making the impossibles possible. He has thrived where his predecessors failed and has continued to create legacies in the face of obvious constraints.
The National Principals Cup that has since gone moribund was revived and to the glory of God, the National finals was played on Tuesday in Abuja with Fosla Academy of the FCT emerging champions.
In Lagos, Dare has kept an eye on the rehabilitation work going on at the National stadium Surulere. A national monument that was left to decay has now been revived by the ministry through Public/Private sector partnership. So far, the stadium is undergoing serious overhauling and in the next few months, the Nation will rise to salute another brilliant achievement.
The Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, MKO International Stadium in Abuja is enjoying a new lease of life and the cheering news from the contractors handing this project is that, by the time work is completed, the MKO Abiola stadium will retain its beauty and reclaim its position as one of Africa’s most outstanding sports edifice.
Some amazing pictures have littered the social media in the last few days. They are pictures of the Daura Township stadium. Another masterpiece from the stable of Sunday Dare. He promised to satisfy the youths of Daura in Katsina state, birthplace of President Mohammadu Buhari and in the coming days, the first official match will be played as the stadium now looking very beautiful, will be opened to the public after a thorough job was done by those saddled with the responsibility.
Dare showed that he is not an enemy of progress as he sought for federal endorsement, encouragement and backing for NFF president Amaju Pinnick, he also played a part in convincing one of the candidates to step down in the race for the FIFA Council seat and today, Nigeria is proud to say, a son of the soil is in FIFA.
He has kept his foot down on the need to improve the Nigeria league in line with global best practices and he is moving a step further to help champion the quest for sponsorship for both the NPFL and NWFL.
No wonder he stood with hands akimbo at the corridor of his office, telling everyone that cares to listen that the Super Eagles have qualified for the 2022 Africa cup of Nations. He did that, with a smile of satisfaction
Nigerian youths are suddenly rehearsing a new song. “He is a Miracle Working Man” was the song they sang at the weekend during the passing out parade of another batch of youth Corp members. Many are not willing to go because for the first time in many years, their monthly allowance was reviewed and increased by close to one hundred percent. They fear that out there in the labour market, they may not get the desired jobs to satisfy their growing needs.
Only few ministers under the present dispensation can boast they have received an approval bigger than the 75billion naira youth empowerment project sactioned by president Mohammadu Buhari and to be supervised by the Oyo state born administrator, a man he holds so close to his heart.
These are achievements that are worthy of praise and there are signs of even more to come. That explains why, Sunday Dare will do all within his powers to get this Sports Festival across the line. He is not known for failures so even when the clouds gather looking as if it will rain, many are confident that there will be some bright light at the end of this very dark tunnel.