Top stakeholders in the sports sector on Wednesday expressed shock over the appointment of Cross River State politician, Senator John Enoh, as the Minister of Sports Development by President Bola Tinubu,
The Presidency also separated the Ministry of Sports Development from Youth, unlike what it was under previous administrations.
A former member of the House of Representatives for Etsako, Abubakar Momoh, who is from Edo State, now heads the new Ministry of Youth.
Enoh represented the Central Senatorial District of Cross River State in the 8th Assembly between 2015 and 2019. Before then, he was a member of the House of Representatives for Obubra/Etung Federal Constituency between 2003 and 2015.
Aside from politics, available information on Enoh shows he owns numerous farms, where he conducts arable and livestock production, while he also runs a foundation where he provides help for people living with diabetes in Nigeria.
Regardless of his long political journey, Nigerian sports enthusiasts expressed shock at the appointment of the 57-year-old, who they say have no traceable connection with sports in the past.
Ace sports broadcaster Frank Ilaboya said, “I’m a little bit surprised because I really don’t hope he will be able prove so many people that don’t know him wrong. I want to believe that the immediate past sports minister Sunday Dare has set the template, even though there were also colossal mistakes, so I hope the new man should look at that especially now that sports has been separated from the youth ministry. Now he can focus squarely on sports development, so much is required. We are all witnesses to what the moroccans are doing with sports, with massive investments in facilities and human capital development.”
Ilaboya admitted Enoh had a huge task ahead of him in reviving the ailing sports sector.
“I think the minister has a lot ahead of him because sports is the only area that gives Nigerians joy, the only one that speaks one language. He needs to do something different, we are tired of the same old stories and moving in circles, so let him come with some creativity that can distinguish him, especially now that many people don’t seem to know him. But I wish him well, and pray he gets the right people around him, who will tell him the truth and the path to follow, which is very important. He has to hit the ground running, there’s no time.”
But the new minister came under scathing criticisms online, with some saying his appointment was a pointer that President Tinubu wasn’t interested in the sports sector.
Veteran sports journalist and administrator, Godwin Enakhena, flashed checks on the new sports minister, who succeeds Sunday Dare.
“Who is John Enoh? Minister of Sports,” Enakhena wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
An enthusiast, Ayodeji Adegbenro said, “My hypothesis is that once they finish allocating all the ministries to the appointees, the last man standing gets sports.”
“Senator John Enoh is the new sports minister. I checked his CV and I took a walk. Sports is undervalued,” Seyi Alao said.
“I have never heard of the name before but it’s obvious that Tinubu has no interest in sport,” Godwin Aluge added.
“I pity sports in Nigeria. No track record in sports what so ever. Are we in for a surprise? We are watching,” a user named Bamgbola said.
However, in a chat with one of our correspondents, former Chairman of the Gombe State FA Shuaib Gara-Gombe also admitted he knew nothing about the new minister but hoped he proved doubters wrong.
“Honestly speaking I don’t know anything about him or where he comes from until after I saw the news of his appointment,”
“I don’t want to say anything much now but I want to tell you clearly that there were times when we had sports people as ministers and they turned out to be the worst sports ministers we ever had. We keep lamenting that they are giving us people who don’t have sports backgrounds but we once had Sani Ndanusa, what did he do? He ended up becoming one of the worst sports ministers.
“My only advice is that we revive the National Sports Commission and allow the minister to focus on policy, while the commission takes care of sports, but we never can tell because he may turn out to surprise us.”
Former President of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria, Niran Adeniji, said tit didn’t matter if the new minister didn’t have a sports background.
“Good if he has a sports background but it is not mandatory that he should. When you get a political appointment, you only need to be a good manager because you have all the necessary expertise in the ministry and if you work with them closely, you will do well. The only area I think you need professionals is being an Attorney General or in health,” Adeniji said.
Also reacting to Enoh’s appointment, former Ogun State Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Bukola Olopade, said he was looking forward to a good working relationship with the Senator.
“I trust the judgment of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and I’m very sure that the new minister will do his best and continue from the positive legacies that Sunday Dare left behind.
“From his credential, you will see that he is a tested personality that understands cooperate governance. I’m looking forward to a great working relationship with him, most especially as Ogun State prepares to host the next National Sports Festival, which I’m the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee.”