The Nigerian Sports Policy has some recommendations for Uganda’s Sports Law


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The norm the world over has always been that a law is enacted pursuant to an existing policy, but in our case, the Sports Bills seem to have come ahead of the Cabinet policy, perhaps speaking volumes about how we treat sports in our country.

Nigeria like many other countries has recognized the importance of sports as an instrument of national unity and cohesion and is in the process of developing a Sports law.

A document dubbed “The Nigerian National Sports Industry Policy, 2020” was developed to aid this process. One wonders why the Ugandan “National Physical Education and Sports Policy of 2022” is rarely if any, referred to in the ongoing discourse concerning the enactment of Uganda’s Sports law, is it because it was more or less an afterthought?

The norm the world over has always been that a law is enacted pursuant to an existing policy, but in our case, the Sports Bills seem to have come ahead of the Cabinet policy, perhaps speaking volumes about how we treat sports in our country.

The Nigerians in the said policy appreciate that sports is anchored on “3Is” and Intellectual Property with the former being- Infrastructure, Incentives, and Investment. There must be state-of-the-art infrastructure, incentives that encourage sportsmen and stakeholders to invest both in terms of performance and resources in the industry. Further still, a bespoke Intellectual Property regime must be present in order to protect the sports product.

Nigeria believes that with the above policy, sports will be positioned as the center of development of several “ancillary industries” associated with the sector. It is the Ugandan musician, Bebe Cool who recently gave the example of Rihanna’s half-time performance at Super Bowl LVII as a clear case of the synergies between sports and entertainment as Rihanna’s Instagram following gained over 1.5m followers.

There are examples of the “3Is” under the Nigerian Sports Policy. The creation of an Independent Athletes Welfare Fund that can enable athletes representing Nigeria to draw support for education and training. The policy envisages the provision of land and waiver of certain fees on lands designated for sports. Perhaps recognizing the government’s possible shortcomings, the policy encourages the utilization of Public-Private-Partnerships in the provision and rehabilitation of sports facilities. The policy also provides that single-digit loan interest rates should be given to corporate organizations and private individuals investing across the whole sports value chain. There is a proposal to provide tax exemptions and rebates for investors in sports over a five-year period.

A Code of Sports Governance is stated in the policy requiring National Sporting Federations to reform their governance. Nigeria recognizes that sports governance and administration is perhaps the bane of sports in the country as it is elsewhere in Africa or even the world. Good governance is essential to ensuring that sports federations are aware of the weight of expectations placed on them seeing as they run public goods. I reckon that the Nigerian Sports law will come along with a special Code of Governance carrying certain compliance requirements for sports associations in Nigeria.  Of course, the “political interference” question hovers all over this.

The Nigerians, like elsewhere recognize the specificity of sports and the need for an independent sports disputes resolution system mooting the creation of an Independent Sports Tribunal.

It also caught my eye that the Nigerian policy also particularly takes into account the role of Information Technology in the development of sports. Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs) are now the thing in the developed sports world-Juventus recently even won an NFT dispute where an Italian Court ruled that a blockchain company had infringed on the Old Lady’s trademarks by using them in its Christian Vieri NFT. The Nigerian sports market is more developed than Uganda’s and has more superstars past and present and already there have been simmering sports disputes stemming from the digital world like when a photographer accused Kelechi Iheanacho of using his photo of him without giving him credit.

The National Physical Education and Sports Policy of 2022 seems to have been overtaken by events. Also, the “National Sports Bill” as it is now called after the harmonization of the “Magogo Bill” and the government one has incorporated some of the proposals in “The Nigerian National Sports Industry Policy, 2020”. However, a “bigger leaf” needs to be borrowed and I hope it is not too late for the members of the Education and Sports Committee to read this column.

Ojakol is a Sports Lawyer, Partner at Matrix Advocates,

and Lecturer at IUEA



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