The appointment of Mr. Sunday Dare as the new Minister of Sports for Youths and Development by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday may have come as a surprise to many sports-loving Nigerians.
He replaced former Sports Minister, Barrister, Solomon Dalung, who served only in Buhari’s first tenure as President.
Dare, who became the 35th Sports Minister in Nigerian sports history, wasted no time as he moved swiftly to work by joining the Nigerian contingents at the ongoing All Africa Games (AAG) in Rabat, Morocco on Thursday.
Although some sports pundits expected the President to appoint a minister with wide knowledge about sports in general, however, there seems to be some sense of hope that his administration would reshape the decadency nature of sports in Nigeria.
Interestingly, many people in 2018/2019 only knew Dare as Executive Commissioner (stakeholder management) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). But before any of that, Dare was an outstanding journalist in his core.
He was a reporter/columnist with The Nation magazine in New York and a production editor/writer with the European funded Fourth Estate magazine, before he served as general editor of The News and Tempo, two of Nigeria’s independent weekly news magazines based in Lagos.
Having graduated with a Bachelor of Science (BSc.) in International Studies from Ahmadu Bello University in 1991, Dare proceeded to obtain a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the University of Jos. He was a Freedom Forum Fellow and Visiting Scholar, School of Journalism – New York University (NYU) in 1998.
After achieving that degree, he went further to Harvard University under the prestigious Harvard Nieman Journalism Fellowship between 2000 and 2001 where he studied Media and Public Policy.
He has decades of multimedia journalism experience spanning about 25 years (1991 and 2016) when he was nominated as executive commissioner. He was the chief, Hausa Service, African Division, Voice of America (VOA) in Washington, DC from 2001 to 2009, where, apart from directing the production of radio and online broadcast news and programs daily, he designed and implemented the adoption of new IT and Telecoms tools for international radio news-gathering and information dissemination to boost audience size and expand reach.
In 2009, he became Senior Special Assistant (media)/Chief of Staff to the minister of information and communications during which he guided decisions on all media and communications related matters, government information dissemination and media policies under the purview of the ministry.
The soft-spoken minister is a recipient of many awards and has been recognized internationally, including being identified as one of the 50 Leading Nigerians in North America 2010 in commemoration of Nigeria’s 50th Anniversary. 13. He also won the Voice of America Meritorious Honor Award 2009 in recognition of his skillful leadership and outstanding performance, and he also bagged a Committee to Protect Journalists Citation in 2000 by the New York-based organization in acknowledgment of his courage as a journalist.
However, the new Sports Minister may know little about sports but there is always room for understanding and improvement in order to achieve the desired results.