Sunday Dare, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, on Friday, in Abuja inaugurated 29 sports federation boards with a charge to them to formulate their constitutions within six months.

Dare also told the executives and members of the new boards that the formulation of their constitution would ensure proper sports governance and development at all levels.

He said that the constitution would set the rules that govern their sports and ensure that they were properly applied.

“Recall that earlier this year, President Muhammadu Buhari granted our proposal to reclassify sport from recreation to business. The ministry will work with you to ensure that you use sport to positively engage our teeming youths.

“In doing this, the ministry is handing down the directive today that federations must, within six months after this inauguration, begin the process of formulating their constitutions.”

He said that the constitution must be in line with the dictates of your various international federations, with input and guidance of the ministry and the Nigeria Olympics Committee.

“This is to ensure that these constitutions are domesticated to operate in tandem with Nigerian laws and our sport industry policy,” he said.

The minister also charged members of the newly elected boards to be guided by established processes, procedures and the code of governance of national sport federations, in the discharge of your responsibilities.

“Let me specially once again congratulate all the elected members of the executive boards of the 29 sport federations being inaugurated today.

“I am congratulating you severally because after this inauguration, you must roll up your sleeves and get ready for the work ahead.

“I want to assure you that it is not going to be smooth, sacrifices will be needed, compromises, where necessary, but you must keep your eyes on the ball,” he said.

He also told them that the future of their respective sports and the career of young athletes under the federations were in their hands.

Dare said: “History will judge you after four years based on how you have positively or otherwise impacted on your sport as respective governing bodies.”

The minister charged the elected board members to also work as a team, to achieve their goals and objectives, adding that the welfare of the athletes must be top on their agenda.

“As Presidents, Vice presidents and members of your respective sport federations, the task of deepening the development of sport is under your care, and now lies squarely on your shoulders also.

“Therefore, teamwork is key to achieving the board’s goals and objectives. I want to salute your sheer sense of patriotism with which each of you contested to be part of this national assignment, which comes without any form of remuneration.

“The welfare of the athletes should be paramount on your agenda, as well as the partnership with the private sector, the branding of your sport and scouting for talents to boost the creation of a business environment,” he said.

The minister expressed displeasure at recent attempts by some federations to undermine the power of government and the ministry.

READ ALSO: One Injured In Abuja Federal Secretariat Annex Fire

He noted that their core responsibilities included facilitating youth and sports development, through the establishment of a conducive policy environment, that would provide strategic support, systems and sports policy implementation, among other functions.

“The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is a critical stakeholder in the sport federations and will monitor closely, without interfering with your operations.

“It must, however, be noted that the competitions and tournaments that you prepare your athletes for are for the purpose of representing Nigeria as a country and not as federations.

“The athletes wear Nigeria’s colours and are covered by Nigeria’s anthem. There was a country before there were federations. Recent attempts to seek to undermine the powers of government and the sports administration is distasteful and disingenuous,” he said.

Dare said the sports ministry would continue to coordinate the formulation and review of policies and legislations in order to provide a framework for effective implementation.

The presidents of 29 newly inaugurated boards of sport federations included Chinonye Daphey (Aquatics), Kenneth Minimah (Boxing) and Mohammed Sani (Chess)/ Uyi Akpata (Crickets); Giandomenico Massari (Cycling); Rita Oyoku (Darts).

Suleiman Dagbo (Deaf Sports); Abubakar Galadinma (Fives); Segun Runsewe (Golf); Kevin Ehizogie (Gymnastics); Sam Ocheho (Handball); Simon Nkom (Hockey); Musa Oshodi (Judo); Silas Agara (Karate); Wilson Okon (Kick Boxing); Adewunmi Adekunle (Wushu kung-fu); Festus Porbeni (Rowing, Canoe and Sailing); and Ademola Are (Rugby).

Also inaugurated were: Olabatoke Aka (Scrabble); Olatunji Ayoade (Shooting); Boye Oyerinde (Squash); Isiaku Tikon (Table-tennis); Saidu Abdullahi (Taekwondo); Olomo Agbadabina (Traditional Sports), Musa Nimrod (Volleyball), Ibrahim Aladi (Weightlifting) and Daniel Igali (Wrestling). (NAN)