7 Minutes with China: Let the Sports Minister breathe

The uproar in the Nigerian sporting media space has been one of epic proportions, especially since the presidency announced the names of ministers and their portfolios.

The one that took the cake was John Enoh being announced as sports minister, without what the sporting media calls ‘experience in the sports sector.’

And this one is quite amusing to me. John Enoh has been a farmer, then a politician and he has been successful at his farming business until now he has been called upon to manage Nigeria’s sports ministry, which is what he is supposed to do.

A manager’s job is to manage, Period!

You do not necessarily have to have played football, or taken part in athletics or have won an Olympic medal to be able to manage a sports ministry. You only have to be a good manager of people, of sound technocrats, and you will most likely succeed.

The role of a minister is a political appointment, so politicians are put in that position. An intelligent politician then looks inwards at the strength of the ministry staff- the Permanent Secretary, the Director General, the Directors, the coaches, etc. These are the people who will ensure he either succeeds or fails.

Then he has to put together his kitchen cabinet- his Senior Special Assistant, his Special Assistant, his Advisers, his media team, etc. These are the people who will determine if he succeeds or fails.

If you have successfully run a bank, and grown from, say one branch to a hundred, a supermarket chain from one corner shop to be biggest in the country, or run a farm, from consistence farming to a big mechanised one, then you have my nod to run any ministry or agency in the country. You just need to have the right eggheads around you, listen to them and manage their knowledge to your benefit.

I look at the Nigerian media space and it surprises me that a lot of the people that think John Enoh cannot be a sports minister never even studied journalism or mass communications, but here they are as broadcasters and journalists. I see a lot of those managing the most extensive sports department of media houses in the country never having studied management too. Our sports journalists and broadcasters are engineers, geologists, economists, microbiologists, Biochemists etc. they have done an excellent job at broadcasting, though, so who says John Enoh cannot do a good job?

If John Enoh fails to succeed as sports minister, it will not be because he did not run, jump, nor kick for Nigeria. It will be because he got stubborn, got drowned by the voices around him, fell into the hands of the cabal, and most of all, either did not get the right people around or listened to their advice.

What is success as a Sports Minister?

If John Enoh borrows from the books of Sunday Dare, Salomon Dalung, and the other sports ministers, I expect him to first visit the National Stadium in Lagos, with a large entourage. After the visit he will address the media, saying he will return the stadium to its old glory.

He will also visit the stadium in Abuja, and then ask why the Super Eagles cannot return to playing there. But are these why he is here? Are those two stadia his markers for success?

Dear Sports Minister, policies that will improve Nigeria’s sports will be your markers for success. Whatever these policies are, just note that they will be your markers for success. Yes, we want to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations and win it; we also want to be at the World Cup, the All Africa Games and the Olympic Games, but you see these sports policies? Even long after your time, you will be remembered because of the policies you put in place that developed sports in Nigeria.

Nigerians, must, however, let the Sports minister breathe! Don’t suffocate him! We have that responsibility!

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