Sixty-One Years After: Nigerian Sports Need True Independence


Sixty-one years after independence, sports in Nigeria is yet to receive its freedom from the government.

As currently constituted, sports is a leisure event despite its long list of achievements for the country.

A look at the top sports will leave you with the stranglehold of government.

In football, 80% of league clubs belong to the states to athletics where rich states poach top talents for the sports festival.

Nigerians Sports at Independence
Team Nigeria at the Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony

Basketball has the same faith with an appreciable number of private teams.

In June 2020, the Nigerian federal executive council reclassified sports as a business from mere recreation.

Sport is now business in Nigeria in principle, with no policy to drive it yet.

On September 14th, 2020, the sports minister declared that Nigeria generates $350million in revenue without any source to data.


The figure is a paltry sum in contrast to countries with Nigeria’s credentials in sports.

A year later, in July 2021, another of the policies to drive Nigeria forward, the national sports commission bill witnessed a hearing from the Senate committee on sports.

The NSC serves as a channel to bring professionals into sports management, leaving the ministry with just a supervisory role.

World Athletics Nigeria
Nigeria’s 4x200m Women take World Relay GOLD with new National Record in 2015.

Background To Sports Policy Making In Nigeria

There have been several sports policies designed to promote sports development in the country.

The first National Sports Policy in 1989 was revised in 2003 and again in 2009. Several reports and advisory committees have also contributed to the efforts to create a vibrant sports sector, including the following:

a. 2003 President Obasanjo Sports Policy Review Report

b. Vision 2010 Sports Development Strategy Report

c. 2009 Presidential Advisory Committee on Sports Report

d. Vision 2020 Sports Development Strategy Report

e. 2014 National Physical Education and School Sports Policy

f. 2016 Ministerial Report on Sports.

NFF MTN Sponsorship

Nigerian Sports Sponsorship and The Law.

There hasn’t been any order, law or regulation talking about anyone firm that goes into sports development.

Except it is a pioneer venture, then it gets five years tax haven.

Sponsorship is tax allowed if it forms part of the operational cost or is used to generate revenue for the company; it must be reasonable, necessary, exclusive, and evidence before making claims for tax according to the company income tax Act.

Donations are NOT ALLOWED for tax purposes except…

It is NOT MORE THAN 10% of the company’s profit.

It is NOT CAPITAL in nature.

If you must donate, then it has to be to an APPROVED body…

Like Muslim Society of Nigeria, Christian Council, Boys Brigade, Girls Guide, Red Cross and something that sounds like NATIONAL SPORTS LOTTERY FUND.

However, if they fail to meet the two parameters, the company must prove that what it did was part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, then it will be allowed.

Nigerian sports

Sports Independence: The Way Forward

42.54 per cent youth population, Nigerian sports is losing out at tapping into its fountain of youth as sports is just for recreation.

Furthermore, tax rebates should be on offer for private companies.

Also, seek to reduce the percentage of govt’s ownership for sports teams while letting them concentrate on facilities.

Nigeria can also initiate incentive policies and the role of govt in establishing sports facilities not just for talent mining but for public recreation, health and building a sports enthusiasts base that will elicit the equity of brand partners.

The Final Draft will go through the process of interrogation by the General Public and the National Council of Sports (NCS) before presentation to and approval by the Federal Government, through its Federal Executive Council.

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