Ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, GTI Capital Group, Mr. Abubakar Lawal, has tasked Nigerians to see the period as best time to invest in sporting activities, especially football as business that is capable of growing the nation’s economy.

Lawal made the call today at GTI House in Lagos during GTI’s first business meeting with investment and finance analysts, policy makers; finance and sports journalists while brainstorming on football as it relates to the economic development.

The GMD hinted that asides oil production in the country, sports such as football and other competitions have occupied a vantage position in building the desired economy for the country. He reaffirmed the need to shift attention to sporting activities from oil.

However, Lawal stated that with possible combination of football and oil exploration development, the nation could easily tackle the high rate of poverty level which currently stands at 60.7 percent, grow the GDP and position Nigerian economy on strong pedestal.

Speaking on the question: Where did Nigeria get it wrong in football, Lawal identified government’s succession problem, negative perceptions against the country and its citizenry, corruption, nationalist problems and other sharp practices such as bending on rules as responsible for sports underdevelopment in Nigeria.

He also pointed out that sports had provided a veritable platform for public, private to make money for the country and each family.

The Chief Economist/Head, Corporate Transformation, GTI, Professor Martin Ike-Muonso, argued that football playing in Nigeria had served as a means of social cohesion and the building of the communities.

According to him, as at 2012, about 43 million Nigerian youths were actively involved in sports generally; that unofficial statistics suggest that about 93 percent of this number were involved largely in football.

“3.53 percent of this number were professionals while the rest were involved solely for recreational purposes as fans. This is consistent with 2014 Repucom world football report which equally found out that about 85 percent choose football as the favorite sports to watch on TV.

In the same report, it seemed that Nigeria is atop with a stupefying 83 percent of the population saying they are interested in football and a 65 percent participation rate in the game”, said Ike-Muonso.

The Managing Director, GTI Asset Management and Trust Limited, Mr. Amos Aledare, listed public, private participation in growing football, encouraging rural talents, personal interest on the side of the coaches, signing of age long football strategic plans and streghtening policy framework in favour of football as leeway to getting back the desired benefits of playing football.

He also called on other stakeholders to commence with immediate effect, major restructuring and investment in the sub-sector and in line with best practices.