The issue of sports have remained ever relevant to human existence. It is not only a unifying activity that knows no barrier; it is a common endeavor that cuts across tribe, religion, class, race, or gender. Everyone is involved as far as sports is concerned. A lot of income can be generated from sporting activities aside from the numerous employment opportunities that can often come with this venture. Beyond the recreational uses of sports, the medical and health benefits of engaging in sports cannot be over-emphasised. The rationale for participating in wellness and fitness endeavour came into the limelight on why Nigerians need to make safety culture their top priority has been stressed.
This was the position of discussants on the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State radio station, FUNAAB Radio 89.5FM live interactive programme, Boiling Point. The panelists said most Nigerians only pay lip service to safety, stressing that there are lots of safety concerns that are not being taken into consideration. The Acting Director, Directorate of Sports, FUNAAB, Dr. Samuel Olabanji, said there should be safety measures put in place by any serious organisation, stressing that society should be conscious of safety at all times. He urged the government to provide a safe environment that would enhance productivity and also make people feel safe while doing their work.
Dr. Olabanji lamented that the level of awareness in Nigeria was very low when it comes to safety education. He wondered: “Are we conscious of safety – privately and publicly? There are issues within the local setting; how many people embrace safety culture?” On his part, an Assistant Registrar at FUNAAB, Mr. Edward Arueyingho, said most Nigerians do not imbibe a safety culture, adding that every society and organisation needs to have a contingency plan in case of any emergency. He disclosed that “We pay lip service to safety in our workplace”, saying that the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) gave a conclusive insight into what an average Nigerian stands for. Mr. Arueyingho further said that this year’s celebration was to create awareness and orientate people to have a better knowledge of emergency situations.
In a related development, what needs to be done to improve sports administration in the country has been stressed. This point was raised by a former Chairman, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Ogun state branch, Mr. Biodun Alabi has urged the Federal Government to replace the Sports Ministry with the National Sports Commission, as the body to run sports administration in the country. Mr. Alabi spoke while featuring on the radio station in the course of examining the situation of sports in the country.
Mr. Alabi said the sports commission would bring scientific dimensions into sports development. The former chairman maintained that there was a need for the nation to plan for sporting events scientifically to come out triumph, stressing that resilience and talents had taken the nation thus far in sporting activities. He noted, with dismay, the rate at which some states in the country completely neglected sports, calling on them to support sports by putting the right policies in place by building the necessary infrastructure for sporting events to grow. According to him, “Any governor that wants to govern any state in Nigeria should understand that sports have the power to change the lives of people and contribute to the Gross Domestic Product”.
He added that Nigerians need to question the knowledge of those who aspire for political offices, stressing that “We need to get knowledgeable leadership to get things right”. Mr. Alabi argued that sports remain the solution to crimes, even as he called on the government to bring in private investors to put money into sports. Meanwhile, Coach Lawrence Odunbo of the Directorate of Sports of FUNAAB said a lot of rot had entered into the nation’s sporting activities, which the government needed to clear, to meet up with global standards. He tasked the government to create an enabling environment for sports to develop in the country, stressing that what is happening to sports is a systemic problem. Coach Odunbo described sports as the major tool and industry for development in any nation, adding that Nigeria should come to that understanding.
What can be deduced from the interventions of the sports professionals are that getting the best out of sports requires putting in place adequate fitness and safety programmes for the well-being of the people while the government should equally provide a safe the environment that would enhance productivity and make people feel safe while doing their work and taking part in sporting activities. The need to ensure that those saddled with the responsibility of managing and administering sports in the country are adequately equipped, empowered, and allowed to function. A salient point raised was the re-designation of the current ministry of sports and youth development to the National Sports Commission, which is believed to be better structured to oversee this complex activity better than what is currently obtainable. But, how far can this proposal go? This is the answer we need to eagerly get.