Motorsports had largely been going on in Nigeria through the years but on a very small scale compared to other countries. It is also a well known fact that Nigerians love cars and are among the biggest buyers and users of cars of different configurations, models and brands. But juxtaposed with motorsports, we are lagging far behind, thereby losing out on the huge potentials accruable from motorsports.
But the International body that regulates motorsports; the FIA had identified this lacuna and is set to change the status-quo.
“The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA, English: International Automobile Federation) is an association established as the Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus (AIACR, English: ‘International Association of Recognized Automobile Clubs’) on 20 June 1904 to represent the interests of motoring organisations and motor car users. To the general public, the FIA is mostly known as the governing body for many auto racing events. The FIA also promotes road safetyaround the world.
Headquartered at 8 Place de la Concorde, Paris, the FIA consists of 245 national member organisations in 143 countries worldwide.
The first step in their quest to help motorsports grow in Nigeria was by hosting the 1st ever FIA Sports Congress in the country, hosting several delegates from mostly African countries and some non-African countries also.
This event was hosted by the FIA’s Nigerian affiliate, the Automobile and Touring Club of Nigeria (ATCN), headed by Mr Ishaku Bamaiyi. The ATCN promotes safety on the roads, automobile mobility, tourism and sports.
This event took place at the magnificent Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on the 25th and 26th August, 2017.
This event was a gathering of the FIA ASNs and stakeholders in motorsports in Africa including Nigeria whose delegates came from the FIA Nigerian affiliates; the ATCN (Automobile and Touring Club of Nigeria) and the ASCN (Automobile Sports Club of Nigeria) to meet, discuss and learn with input from the best and brightest in the world of motorsports.
This event served several purposes both for the non-Nigerians and the Nigerians who participated in the event. It served as an evaluation and brainstorming sessions and also helped the Nigerian delegates who some were veterans but most were new in the game to have a first-hand experience of an FIA Congress, more importantly have a better insight into the world of motorsports.
It is worthy of note to mention that for the first time ever in the world, a very high-powered delegates was sent by a nation’s government to participate in a FIA congress as Nigeria’s Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) sent 3 senior staff led by Assistant Corps Marshal Olumide M. Olagunju to participate actively in the congress as a show of support towards the entrenchment and growth of motorsports in a safe and controlled manner in Nigeria.
Equally, the Honourable Minister for Youths and Sports also sent a representative to the event.
The event started with a cocktail night on the 24th where delegates mingled and interacted with each other in a convivial atmosphere to break the ice and get to know one another better before the serious part of the event started. The FRSC boss in Nigeria; Boboye Oyeyemi (MFR, MNI) graced this event and together with the President of FIA, Jean Todt gave their speeches welcoming participants and wishing them a fruitful stay and deliberations.
There was also a gala dinner on the 25th at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel where attendees were treated to sumptuous dishes and entertainment from a dance troupe that even got the delegates joining in the fun.
As the congress started proper on the 25th and on the 26th, motorsports in Africa was seriously evaluated and many aspects were dissected with loads of progress strategies proffered.
It was unanimously agreed that funding was a big problem for most Africans interested in motorsports but the FIA in its magnanimity reiterated that motorsports mustn’t be started at the level of the FIA standards but grassroots. They also restated their committment in encouraging the growth of motorsports in Africa.
Safety in motorsports was another key issue discussed especially the proliferation of fake and sub-standard safety kits for drivers, cars and the support staff.
Equally, the FIA was very appreciative of the participation of the team from FRSC and implored them to support motorsports in Nigeria, because a regulated motorsports is better than an unregulated one especially as regards adherence to safety measures and government’s understanding of and support is ley to the growth of motorsports in Nigeria.
POTENTIALS ACCURABLE FROM MOTORSPORTS DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA
- Tourism enhancement
- Developments in automotive technology
- Revenue generation for both participants and organizers, even the government
- Job creation
- Reduction in crime etc