- Let professionals run Sports in Nigeria, stakeholders tell FG
Nigerian Sports stakeholders have intensified bid to demand for the head of the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, after Nigeria’s poor outing at the last Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.
Nigeria contingent to the Rio Games disappointed the country, after finishing the Games with only one bronze from football event.
The Sports Ministry attributed the dwindling fortunes to the Federal Government’s inability to release funds at the right time for preparations and participation, especially when some sports had to seek private initiative to raise funds for their upkeep.
But stake holders are pointing accusing fingers at the Sports Ministry, describing the officials as incompetent individuals.
Former Team Nigeria captain, Yusuf Ali, is furious about the foundation of sports in Nigeria, while reacting the country disgraceful outing in Rio. He said Nigerian Sports can not forge ahead until Federal Government scraped the Ministry of Youth and Sports and return it back to the National Sports Commission.
According to him, Sports have gone scientific and it should be run by well trained professionals.
Ali said things had fallen apart since Federal Government decided to use politicians to run sports affairs in Nigeria.
“We are tired of this mess in Sports. How can a carpenter be doing the work of a tailor. There are people who were trained for sports administration in Nigeria. We have experienced technocrats who are still alive. Things were not so bad when sports commission was in charge of sports in Nigeria. This present Minister did not know what to do. I think he needs help. There is no incentives for sportsmen and women. There is nothing at stake for all the risk they are taken to win laurels for Nigeria. It is not so in America and other western countries. They took great care about the welfare of their athletes but in Nigeria, there is no plan and no reward for achievements,”he said.
Earlier in the week, Tony Ubani, Nigeria Olympic Committee, Spokesman,had described as unfortunate the country’s poor performance at the just concluded Rio 2016 Olympic Games, saying it showed that the country learnt nothing from the woeful outing at the London 2012 edition of the Games.
He said Nigeria could only win a bronze medal at the Rio Games, where such African countries as Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Egypt and Botswana registered multiple honours.
He described as unacceptable the country’s continued failure to harness its enormous human and material resources to stand among the best in the international community, arguing that Nigeria should be among the leaders in such events as the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and football’s World Cup.
It was agreed that the country performed dismally at the just concluded 2016 Rio Olympics and called on the sports Minister, Solomon Dalung who believed Nigeria was prepared for the Olympics to take full responsibility for the failure.
He said the Presidency should probe the delayed arrival of the Olympic Contingents kits to Brazil after seven Officials of the ministry were in China for the purchase of the Kits. If Kenya with 13 medals comprising 6 gold, 5 silver and 1 bronze won at the Games could still prosecute some of her Officials for misdeeds at the Olympics for minor offences by the Kenyan government, the Nigerian government should unearth the Atlanta Saga alongside the Kits embarrassment at Rio.
He said the country should be looking beyond Tokyo 2020 and prepare for the 2024 Olympics with the bulk of Athletes who will be discovered in various National Youth Games with emphasis on the return of School Sports.He also demanded that the government give a policy direction on the role sports should play in our National development as well as demands an explanation on why the National Sports Commission was scrapped few months to the Games.
He said for Nigeria to move forward, henceforth, federations’ elections should be given adequate attention by allowing only professionals to contest in various federations other than using as political settlement.
“The National Olympic Committee should also emulate their South African Counterparts who depend on corporate world for its participation in the Olympics than becoming an appendage of the government.
National Sports Trust fund should be a profile for sports development as it has not been fully utilized for the good of sports in the country,”he said.
Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, Abuja chapter, had also condemned Nigeria’s failure in Rio when they met to review Team Nigeria performance in Brazil..
“This is a country that produced such great athletes as Chidi Imoh, Innocent Egbunike, Falilat Ogunkoya, Charlton Ehizuelen, Bruce Ijirigho, Mary Onyali, Fatima Yusuf, Olopade Adeniken and the Ezinwa brothers, to mention but a few. These are athletes that were consistently among the top three finishers in their various events in our recent history.
“Sadly, Nigeria no longer qualifies for the finals of major events. How did we sink so low?” SWAN queried. It recalled the intervention programme set up after the London 2012 debacle by immediate past president, Goodluck Jonathan, which was supposed to correct the anomalies in Nigerian sports, arguing that the cure for the country’s sports malaise resides in the grassroots.
“We must as a matter of urgency go back to the schools because that is where the talents are.
“All the stakeholders from the Federal Government to the local councils must rise up to the challenge of rebuilding Nigerian sports,” it added.
SWAN tasked the Federal Government not to pay lip service to sports by way of releasing funds late and also not to use sports as a sacrificial lamb in satisfying party faithfuls by appointing greenhorns as Sports Minister.
Meanwhile,as part of efforts to arrest the dwindling fortunes in Nigeria’s sports, the Federal Government has declared a state of emergency on sports.
The Minister of Youth and Sports made the declaration shortly after he received the report on the Olympic Games presented by the Sports Reform Committee.
Dalung said Nigeria’s dismal performance at the Rio Olympics necessitated the declaration of a state of emergency on sports.
The Chairman of the Committee, Godwin Kienka, advised the government to implement the recommendations of the committee.
He added that Nigeria never prepared for success at the Olympic Games.