President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Abuja announced his approval of appointment of managerial staff of the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 2 Headquarters.
Buhari, represented by the Minister of State for Power, Works, and Housing, Suleiman Hassan, made the announcement at the opening of the First Session of the AUSC Region 2 Ministers Meeting.
He said the approval would facilitate the easy take-off of the AUSC Region 2 Secretariat in Abuja.
Buhari also directed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, to accord diplomatic status to the secretariat staff.
“My country will give you the necessary support through the Ministry of Youths and Sports to enable you complete the task ahead of the newly-created AUSC Region 2 for overall success.
“I have approved the request of the ministry to engage few foundation staff to facilitate the take-off and pay them in line with the Personnel Service Scheme of the Africa Union Commission (AUC).
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will accord diplomatic status to the secretariat staff of AUSC region 2,’’ he said.
Buhari said the West African Ministers of Sports meeting of Wednesday affirmed the seriousness Nigeria and the region attached to sports.
He congratulated the AUC for going the extra mile to give adequate attention to sports development on the continent.
Buhari said this was clear in the recent restructuring within the African sports movement which gave birth to AUC.
“With the new African sports architecture in place, I look forward to seeing African sports develop, live and bounce.
“My country Nigeria attaches great important to sports, hence our acceptance to host this very important meeting to provide the needed platform for our sub-region.
“I am pleased to know that you already have a blueprint in place which is the draft strategic plans for AUSC Region 2.
“I have no doubt in my mind that during the course of your deliberations, you will ratify them for effective implementation.
“In line with AU’s overall objectives, I urge you to broaden your deliberations to align sports with peace, security, education, health promotion, social mobilisation, employment creation and social economic development,’’ he said.
Earlier, Senate President Bukola Saraki had urged the African Ministers of Sports to ensure that the meeting’s decisions and resolutions would be used to develop sports in the West African region.
He said the primary aim of government was to create an environment for business to thrive, adding that sports today was a global brand.
“Africa is heading towards a crossroad with emerging sports personalities able to perform on an international sports stage, but it lacks the domestic organisation to make continent proud.
“There cannot be success at the highest level if we fail to put our house in order. Many African countries face social economic challenges which appear to be more pressing than sports.
“But the onus falls on the administrators to be more creative and try to involve more private sector participation in the development of sports on the continent,’’ the Senate President said.
Saraki, who was represented by the Chairman of Senate Committee on Sports, Obinna Ogba, said certificated sports professionals should be given the opportunity at all levels of sports administration.
He said the issue of corruption should not be tolerated if Africa’s sports must be developed.
Nigeria’s Youths and Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, in his welcome address said the first session of African Ministers of Sports meeting was a dream come through.
He added that it would go a long way in redefining the desired peace in the region.
The minister said the AUSC Region 2 secretariat would bring regional integration, socio-cultural and economical development of the region through the instrumentality of sports.
“With the evolution of OAU to AU, the new architecture of sports saw the emergence of five sports regions, with the 15 West African countries belonging to Region 2 and Abuja as the capital.
“Today, we are gathered to celebrate the take-off of this regional secretariat through the ratification of all the legal instruments that will make for rapid development of sports in the region.
“ It is my belief that the objectives will be greatly achieved. We are happy that with the headquarters of ECOWAS in Abuja the active interface will make for rapid sports development.
“ Our strong desire is that the immediate benefit of this new innovative will be felt during the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the 2019 African Games and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics where our athletes from the 15 West African countries will make us proud.’’