Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Abdullahi Promises End to NPL Sponsorship Brouhaha

Minister of sports and Chairman, National Sports Commission, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi has assured that in a matter of weeks, the lingering sponsorship crisis between the Nigeria Premier League and telecommunications giants, Globacom and MTN will soon be a thing of the past.

This assurance was given yesterday by the sports minister when the board members of the NPL led by Chief Victor Rumson Baribote paid him a courtesy visit in his office.

The minister said he is aware of the challenges being faced by the present board of the NPL but expressed happiness that his call for peace in the sector was harkened to by all the aggrieved parties.

He expressed hope that all outstanding issues in the country's football would be resolved amicably adding that without peace, there would not be any progress.

Abdulahi said the Nigeria Premier League is one of the top most issues for him as the minister of sports because if properly managed the league would be the reservoir of players for the national teams and would not lack sponsors.

His words: "It is very difficult to accept that we have inadvertently allowed or created conditions that motivate these young talented Nigerian to want to go out in search of what they consider to be greener pastures when they could have had better condition here.

"I have looked at that I have realized that one of the things we need to do is to create a conducive conditions for these talented players to play and live here comfortably.

"I also know that you have been struggling with the issue of sponsorship of the league, getting to pay indemnities for matches to hold week in week out. I know it is the most difficult challenge that you are facing. And I know that if the league were developed to the level we should, we shouldn't have difficulties getting people to invest and put their money in the league.

"The sponsorship issue has been a source of concern for all of us. What I can tell you is that we are very close to resolving the matter. We have had several meetings with all the interested parties. I don't think there is any logjam at the moment. Even if there was any, it is no longer there. All we just need is to get the details right. There is nothing like logjam. I can assure you that if not before the end of this season, before the commencement of next season, the issue of sponsorship would have been sorted out".

Speaking, NPL chairman Baribote thanked the minister for playing a key role in restoring peace in Nigerian football.

The NPL chairman, who called Abdullahi 'the messiah' of Nigerian football, pledged his loyalty and that of his board members to the minister of sports.

He said the appointment of Abdullahi as the substantive minister of sports is a step in the right direction as he expatiated that having over seen the ministry in supervisory capacity, he is the right person to lead Nigerian sports.

Baribote said the NPL will always support the transformation agenda of the minister just as he said the league board too will continue to look up to the minister for support.

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