Bolaji Abdullahi, Chairman of (himself) one man commission National Sports Commission (NSC) said on his extacode escape to London that the staffs of NSC are simply incompetent bunch transferred there by Civil Service officials. Of course the statement is true but any sane or insane Nigerians will ask Mr. Abdullahi why as a Minister for over a year he failed to do anything about this assertion? Or is it a case of a black kettle calling a pot black or simply Mr. Abdullahi is just a puppet in ministerial post? I say both.
The Presidency or people claiming to represent the Presidency keep announcing the resolution of Presidential Retreat over and over again. Even uneducated folks were asking what sort of resolution is that that was never published, spoken about or known even to the Minister unless the government was about to waste the country funds on ill-conceived agenda. Educated folks simply kept reserve as the lead driver of this escapade simply exhibits ‘yagayaga’ resolve that makes these folks to wonder whether gymnastics of minds are at play.
Case in point, a grass root sports announcement was made in such a way that Nigerians ought to believe that they never had physical education in schools or National Assembly never provided funds for this development. Nigerians were informed many times over with this writer’s articles that the National Assembly was deceived into given out an annual average of N520Million for grass root sports in the past four (4) years totaling over N2.5Billion. The question that ought to be raised is recovery of such funds to finance future real grass root sports that the President was talking about.
Further talks that zero-in on this writer’s article concerns the engagement of the Education Ministry. This is a good direction because NSC lacks the skill, knowledge to educate anyone on sports issues rather the Ministry of Education retains such portfolio, therefore, National Institute of Sports (NIS) must be responsible for such agency not NSC just as facilities maintenance and acquisition belonged to Work Ministry. One should remember the Sports Minister assessments of his Ministry as full of novices lacking professional skills in many areas.
It is no longer news that National Stadiums were overgrown with weeds and the structures were dilapidated but yet multi-Billion Naira were budgeted annually for facilities improvements and upgrade including illegal budgeting for NIS to upgrade National stadium, Lagos. In fact nothing was done despite NIS lacked ownership of any stadium. Again, does this Minister have a mandate to bring these issues before EFCC and ICPC or police? This writer says absolutely absolutely (no misprint).
On Bolaji Abdullahi trip to London fishing for British groomed grass root talents to rescue his Ministry from mediocrity, this writer can’t decipher such action. Firstly, the population of Nigeria’s youth is twenty (20) times more than UK’s youth so also are the level of PE graduates and NIS Coaching program paper holders. And secondly, NSC has sole responsibility for NIS while it maintains the superiority of its sports federation department over faculty of physical education across the country and more importantly, Bolaji Abdullahi personally hand picked those federation’s leaders that destroy the nation’s chances to lead again. Now, this writer asks, is this not defeatist attitude? Is this not acceptance of incompetence? Is this not a failed regime that ought to be discontinued?
Quite simply, the sports ministry surrendered that nobody it trained at NIS is qualified to train Nigerian athletes and that sports federations are simply cash grab and useless and finally that our youth lacks natural talents, which is hypocritical considering the Presidency recent ill-advised shower of monies on them.
It is this writer’s view, that NSC now serves no purpose if the Ministry is bent on relying on British or American groomed children, some of whom has former Nigerian parents. Or is it that NSC simply wants to redirect the N500Million budget for grass root sports abroad after being caught in a web of lies to the National Assembly for four years on what happened to such funds. Ministry of Finance ought to lead the way in demanding that Bolaji Abdullahi accounts for his trip to London and how much he deposited in UK banks, if he has any. That information is easy to obtain from Financial Services Authority (FSA) in UK. In fact this writer can get such information and forward it to Nigerian authority as necessary.
What Has to Happen
In a nutshell Mr. Abdullahi must tour Nigeria and speak with all community organizations dealing with grooming athletes of all sports announcing rights to receive grants out of the N500Million budget for grass roots sports development. He must emphasize that federations’ lack control of those organizations rather any of them should approach NSC directly with their programs.
Failure of Sports Minister to do this means he must exist the Ministry immediately. Why go to Europe when it is cheaper to tour Nigeria to find talents out of multimillion youths than just three thousands in UK or USA.
Presidency must mandate Education Ministry to take over NIS and Works and Planning Ministry to take over capital spending of NSC.
Dr. Rashid A. Balogun, CPA, LLB(Hons.), LLM(London)