SPORTS DEVELOPMENT: NATIONAL LOTTERY TRUST FUND
The current government’s review of the National Sports Policy, intended to define our direction in sports after close and serious consultation with relevant stakeholders, has been instrumental in finding innovative means of funding Sports development in the country. This seems to have been possible mainly because of the government’s awareness that sports is a mass-participation recreational activity that could be used to promote good health and a general sense of well-being, as well as the fact that sports is a professional enterprise that is anchored on excellence and could provide employment for millions of Nigerian young men and women. The need to set up major sports infrastructure and ensuring their maintenance has also been a factor in the government’s review of National Sports Policy.
This is where the relevance of the National Lottery Trust Fund (NLTF) comes in. The NLTF plays a key role in the collaboration between the federal government and the states in funding sports development as much as it does in supporting several other initiatives from several sports bodies and organisations. With the NLTF, funding sporting development will undoubtedly be more effective as it would provide access to much needed financial support.
The NLTF‘s mandate as a remittance receiving entity whose primary source of fund is lottery is well stated and its goal to finance social projects clearly expresses its focus. The National Lottery Act 2005 requires that for any lottery game or promotional lottery, 50 per cent of the proceeds should go for prizes while 20 per cent is to be remitted to “NLTF. The 20 per cent is to be used for administration of ‘Good Cause Projects’ that directly affect the lives of the citizens. The ‘Good Cause‘ fund is money that is removed from lottery proceeds and put into l government coffers and used for execution of social projects.
However, what is interesting is that the President Jonathan administration is the first to use the funds for the promotion of sports development. For the first time, President Jonathan approved the execution of good cause projects in the area of grassroots sports development in selected primary schools across the country. ‘Sports’ was chosen as the main theme because of its unifying power which transcends religion, ethnicity, race and politics. It is believed that this will boost sports development and the discovery of young sporting talents across the country.
The NLTF recently signed a N663m sports equipment agreement with Chinese and Turkish firms. The deal will see the firms supply branded sports equipment in nine sports to public primary schools in the country.
The equipment will be distributed to about l,000 primary schools nationwide, with at least nine primary schools benefiting in each senatorial district across the six gen-political zones. The nine sports the branded equipment will cover are: Athletics, Volley Ball, Football, Handball, Badminton, Table Tennis, Basketball, Judo and Taekwondo.
The NLTF has already concluded a comprehensive survey and identified the prospective primary schools to benefit from the distribution of the equipment in the country in line with President Goodluck Jonathan’s directives for the program.
It is also expected that, with the long standing experience of the Executive Secretary, Habu Gumel, in sports management, the perception of the public towards the contribution of lottery to national development will be positive once they see the benefits of the fund in their communities. Many say that, for Gumel, transparency, commitment and prudence will be the guiding principles and he would ensure effective implementation of the fund’s mandate.