Four years of Sunday Dare leading the charge in Youth and Sports Development


Every journey a man embarks on, has a destination, which is usually the terminal point of that journey. Long journies, especially in our terrain, are rough, tough and sapping.

As Sunday Dare counts down to the end of his tenure as Nigeria’s minister for Youth and Sports Development, the astute administrator has discharged his duties along this journey with vigour, dedication, guts, finesse, and unquestionable commitment, over the last four years. Dare emerged at a time when sports needed a repositioning, with public and stakeholder confidence at its lowest ebb. Not only was his job cut out, he also faced an uphill task to prove his mettle to critics and silence the dissenting voices in the crowd. There is no gain saying in a terrain such as public service, there will always be discordant voices and cacophonies of opposing views, no matter how impressive the subject of  a mission appears.

With the benefit of hindsight, Dare can be said to have successfully silenced the ciritics with the transformations he led in the last four years. The ministry he looked after has always been a tricky one, as more often than not, people forget it combines both sports and youth development. These two areas, however related, are also distinct in their needs, there are not water tight compartments. Usually, the Sports arm of the ministry has always enjoyed patronage and support, while youth development arm has endured neglect.

One of Dare’s cardinal principles upon assumption of office was to resuscitate, reinvigorate and reenergized a key part of the ministry, that holds significance to the future of the country. He committed himself to youth development, empowerment, addressing youth leadership gaps, boosting the creative industry and tech, and other niches where youth thrive and beam the light.

The ministry under Dare’s stewardship initiated the Digital Skill  Enterpreneurship Employability Leadership (DEEL), where over 320,000 young Nigerians were trained in 11 different digital skills. These included contemporary skills in robotics, Artificial Intelligence, cybersecurity, coding, etc. Dare had rightfully stated that 65% of Nigeria’s population are people aged 18-35 and thus, this demography represents the strength and future of the country. Hence, fixing this population was as good as fixing the country itself. 

Aside the numerous training programmes in leadership and employability, his administration also provided soft loans for MSMEs, SMEs and start ups, under th National Youth Investment Fund, with 75 billion Naira invested to

supprots start ups by youth.  

For the first time in a long while, the Youth Department of the ministry became a beehive of activities that were productively geared towards providing young Nigerians with the necessary trainings and platform they needed to thrive. The minister led the review of the National Youth Policy (NYP), which was launched in 2019 and made available via pocketsize and mobile app. Nigeria hosted its first ever National Youth Conference, themed “Youth inclusiveness: Governance, Secrurity and Employment. It had over 800 delegates from the 36 states and the FCT, including over 2 million online participants.

On the flip side of the coin, it is a no brainer that sports have thrived massively under Dare’s reign. With President Muhammadu Buhari declaring that sports must become a business with manifesting dividends in employment, manufacturing and investments, Dare instituted various initiatives and projects to propagate that mandate. Adopt-an-athlete initiative saw over 45 home and foreign based athletes provided funding for training, with over $500,000 invested. The result of this was manifested in Team Nigeria’s unprecedented records of success at the World Youth Championships, African Youth Championships, commonwealth Games, etc.

Adopt-a-Pitch initiative has revived the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, Daura Township Stadium, Katsina, with work ongoing at the National Stadium, Surulere, Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Ibadan, etc.

Various initiatives such as working on the National Sports Commission Bill, Sports Hall of Fame, Talent Hunt Programme, Athlete Welfare Scheme, Student Athlete’s’ Scholarship have all helped sports to thrive.

Sunday Dare presented the National Sports Industry Policy to the president, with sports reclassified as a business, to drive growth in a sustainable ecosystem.

It comes with little surprise, how the country has excelled in various international championships, given the strong foundation laid for success by the minister and his team. It came with little surprise that the Federal Government approved 2.5Billion Naira for the establishment of a National High Performance Centre in Abuja, as this will further bolster sports development in the country.

As this administration gradually winds down, the big question on the lips of stakeholders is, who will fill the gigantic shoes Dare will leave behind? how will the strides and development be sustained? How do we progress and avoid retrogressing? It only takes a meticulous process of appointing someone whose head fits the cap. A tink-tank, who understands what has been done and can strategically maintain and further the good work done in the last four years. Where the pendulum swings, remains to be seen, but as for Sunday Dare, his mark will remain indelible in the history of sports.


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