President of Toronto Raptors’ basketball operations, Masai Ujiri, has urged Nigeria to stop the anti-productive practice of appointing non-professionals as sports ministers.
He said the practice of appointing sports ministers based on political considerations has denied the country’s largest and most productive population quality leadership at the policy level that unleashes their great potential.
The Nigerian-Canadian former basketball player, who spoke alongside President Muhammadu Buhari at the launch of the Nigeria Exchange (NGX) Group, said the country must take its youths and sports seriously to achieve economic and political potential, which he believes is the surest path to global success for Nigeria.
Describing the National Stadium, Lagos, as an eyesore, Masai, who in 2003 founded ‘Giants of Africa’ to discover basketball talent, and once served as director of NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Africa, wondered why such a great piece of real estate has not become income-generating like other sports complexes the world over.
He challenged President Muhammadu Buhari and other speakers at the virtual launch to support sports business, saying the industry is one of the biggest income earners, world over.
He pointed to what has been achieved in the state-of-the-art 10, 000-seater Kigali indoor Arena in Rwanda which is currently playing host to the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL), kicked off in Rwandan capital Kigali on Sunday, featuring 12 teams from across Africa.
Among speakers at the launch aside President Buhari, were minister of finance, budget and national planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed and minister of trade and investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo.
Others were the GCEO of the Nigeria Exchange Group, Mr Oscar Onyema; former chairman of UBA, and founder Tony Elumelu Foundation, Mr Tony Elumelu and former chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia.