The Zamfara youth and sports sector reform 

As global attention increasingly centers on enhancing and effectively utilising youth and sports potential, government at all levels are continually developing strategies to maximise the benefits in this sector. 

The socio-economic development opportunities inherent in youth and sports activities are so significant that they cannot be overlooked or left untapped by nations.

Thus, the Zamfara state government, under Governor Dauda Lawal’s “Rescue Mission,” has introduced significant positive changes in the youth and sports sector. The aim is to stimulate, support, and encourage youth to develop their inherent potential through productivity. 

Additionally, the government seeks to harness the economic benefits of sports enterprises and investments to create employment, thereby reducing insecurity and other social vices.

To effectively achieve its goals, the Zamfara State Ministry of Youth and Sports Development led by Hon. Commissioner Tasi’u Musa Shinkafi has standardized its operations to align with modern trends. 

He has introduced innovative measures in the ministry’s operations, ensuring compliance with motivational theories of youth and sports development from the grassroots to international levels.

The ministry has successfully evaluated, repositioned, and strengthened its operational capacity to fulfill its statutory obligations. 

During this process, it uncovered significant issues that impeded its role and impact on youth and sports development. 

Through collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the ministry has implemented comprehensive programmes that offer training, support, and opportunities for youth in the state to acquire relevant skills, gain employment, and contribute meaningfully to society.

The reforms, initiatives, and practical strategies adopted by the ministry have yielded impressive results within the first year of implementation. 

These achievements have boosted the morale of youth and sports enthusiasts, fostering cooperation with the state government to achieve its objectives.

Consequently, the ministry is reviewing the Bills of Quantities to rehabilitate and revitalise the previously abandoned Skills Acquisition Centers across the state. 

The aim is to equip them with the necessary tools and basic techniques to promote self-reliance through skills acquisition and productivity. 

Also, the ministry has made concrete arrangements to provide quarterly training and starter-packs to 5,000 unemployed youths. 

The training encompasses computer skills, ICT, solar power installations and repairs, GSM repairs, electrical installations, shoe and bag making, tailoring, hairdressing, and poultry production. As part of Dauda’s ‘Zamfara Rescue Mission’, the ministry has launched a website to collect data on unemployed graduates in Zamfara state. 

This data will be used to organise training programmes aimed at empowering them for entrepreneurship. 

More so, the ministry has finalised plans to construct zonal youth centres across the state, with funding earmarked in the 2024 budget to support this initiative.

In collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), the ministry plans to engage 10,000 youth in rice production. 

The objective is to provide them with sustainable support and training, including the necessary inputs, to effectively engage in rice cultivation.

After analysing the economic and social benefits of the sports sector, the Zamfara state government has established a Football Academy to recruit young, talented players for intensive three-month training sessions. 

This training aims to prepare them to join foreign soccer clubs, with the expectation that the proceeds from their sports engagements will be remitted to the state government in foreign currency.

To begin the process from the grassroots, the ministry has initiated plans to construct two 1,000-capacity mini stadiums in each of the state’s three geopolitical zones. 

Additionally, it proposes to build an indoor sports hall in each zone to enhance the state’s revenue base.

To a pessimist, a one-year timeframe may seem grossly insufficient to achieve an impressive scorecard. 

However, to a committed administrator, one year can provide ample opportunity to plausibly demonstrate what can be accomplished from the outlined agenda.

Governor Dauda Lawal has steadfastly taken on leadership responsibilities with a mission of salvation. 

He directed his Executive Council Members and subordinates to be steadfast and fully committed in implementing policies. 

This clear directive has motivated the Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Tasiú Musa Shinkafi, to rise to the challenge and achieve appreciable results.

One of the notable achievements of the ministry is the ongoing rehabilitation and upgrading of the Sardauna Memorial Stadium in Gusau, which has reached an appreciable stage of completion. 

Apart from creating a website to collect and store data on unemployed graduates in Zamfara state, the ministry has also set up a database for serving NYSC members in the state and ensured the settlement of three months’ outstanding allowances.

Further achievements noted and documented by the ministry include the procurement of sports equipment for the Zamfara United Football Club. 

This was facilitated by securing a Nigeria National League (NNL) slot for the club, enabling its participation in the 2023/2024 football season.

As a motivational tactic, the ministry has promptly increased and disbursed monthly allowances for players, management, and the technical crew. 

In addition, the ministry has revived and promoted various sports associations, including Cricket, Basketball, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, and para games. 

In an unprecedented move, these sports associations and their coaches are receiving monthly allowances from the ministry.

In addition to honouring invitations from sports associations nationwide, the state government successfully hosted the Under-17 Cricket Zonal Championship, involving seven North-Western states. 

The previously inoperative Zamfara United Football Club transit bus has been repaired and is now fully operational.

Governor Dauda Lawal has reaffirmed his commitment to maximiding the resources available from youth and sports development by directing a high-powered delegation, led by the Chief of Staff, Hon. Mohktar Lugga, to visit the Edo state stadium and conduct a feasibility study for constructing a similar facility in Gusau. 

The delegation has completed its assignment, and the state government is currently reviewing the report for implementation.

As future societal leaders, youth must be properly guided and supported by responsible elders to prepare them for the challenges of leadership. 

Recognising this, Governor Dauda Lawal plans to construct a Mega Youth Centre in Gusau. 

This facility will help raise awareness among youth about the opportunities available at the Centre, enabling them to earn legitimate incomes.

In recognition of Governor Dauda Lawal’s efforts to revitalise the youth and sports sector for the socio-economic benefit of the state and its people, several NGOs, both domestic and international, have offered their support. 

They plan to contribute by training youth in various trades and donating essential sporting equipment and facilities to the government. 

In the same vein, some sports partners have expressed interest in identifying and facilitating the engagement of talented young athletes abroad to generate foreign currency for the state government. It is evident that Governor Dauda Lawal administration has solidly established a historic landmark in the development of the youth and sports sector. 

This achievement can be attributed to the governor’s determination, sustained commitment, and continuous support for the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to actualise the outlined policies.

Sulaiman Aliyu,

 Information Officer/PRO Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Zamfara state