By Emmanel Onwubiko
In Nigeria today if an independent popularity contest is to be conducted by a body/group higher and purer in transparency and credibility than the current Independent National Electoral Commssion [INEC], I am sure that the contingent from Nigeria at the ongoing London Para-Olympics would rank among the very best to be closely followed by the wonderful set of determined and highly patriotic young girls that constitute the Faconets Football Club that are paticipating at the ongoing Under-20 Women World Cup in Japan, the female national team which recently walloped national female teams from much developed and technologically advanced countries including Italy and Mexico. These Nigerian female footballers recently dispatched the Mexican national team to then qualify for the Semi-final of the Women Under-20 World Cup in Japan. This is a no mean feat indeed.
The male National team [Super Eagles] in the last two years failed spectacularly to win qualification to contest in any high profile global sporting competitions including the 2010 World Cup that took place for the first time on the African continent-in South Africa and even the African Nations’ Cup that took place in our South East neighboring nations of Gabon/Equatorial Guinea. There is therefore every reason to affirm that our Physically-challenged athletes at the London 2012 paralympic will come first in an popularity test.
This is because the Physically-challenged Team Nigeria at the Paralymics also in London has done Africa proud by winning two Gold Medals already in competitions as tough and competitive as Weighlifting. Mr. Yakubu Adesokan won Team Nigeria’s first Gold Medal in the Powerlifting event at the 2012 London ParaLympic Games.
Another of Mr. Adesokan’s team mate- Ivory Nwokorie won Team Nigeria’s second Gold medal in the Women’s 44kg powerlifting event of the London 2012 paralympic Games.
The media reported that Miss.Nwokorie who won a bronze medal in the Para-powerlifting Championship held in Dubai recently, lifted a combined weight of 109kg to finish ahead of Cigdem Dede of Turkey [Silver] and Lidia Soloviova of Ukraine [Bronze]. Sports analysts are hopeful that with the high spirit in the Team Nigeria’s camp at the ParaLympics in London, Nigeria will smile home with more high profile tournament’s medals. This is a very cheerful news.
If you read this trend of thought and still not convinced of the philosophical veracity and accuracy of this top popularity claim that physically challenged athletes have brought fame and international pride to the Nigerian nation, then wait a minute so I demolish all doubts in your mind.
Are you aware of the abysmal performance of the Nigerian contingent to the London Games that has just ended? For three weeks and some few days that the 2012 main Olympic took place in London, the United Kingdom, Nigeria came tops from the very rear [last position on the table]with no medal in all the categories of competitions that we entered for even after the highly compromised and corrupt Government officials and their collaborators from the sports committees of the two chambers of the National Assembly led the Nigerian able bodied athletes to that tournament that has turn out as our monumental show -of- shame said they blew away a whooping sum of N3 Billion at the event.
It is a fact that even the most unrepentant doubting Thomas will accept that our national psyche was heavily bruised, harassed and thoroughly insulted with the unverifiable and false claim by Sports ministry officials that over N3 Billion of tax payers money were expended to ensure the participation of Team Nigeria at the Games which turned out as our worst ever Olympic in recorded history since Nigeria became politically independent more than half a century now.
I use the word “False claim” because in Nigeria’s Government circle, there is a conventional tradition of total disregard for accountability so much so that all kinds of unsubstantiated receipts are raised by Government officials during international sporting events with the anticipation that if the outcome of such global sporting carnival becomes successful/favourable and eventful on our side, then most critical -minded Nigerian analysts would not find time to raise probing questions that border on transparency or lack of it in the use of the approved and cash-backed financial resources for that game since virtually all Nigerians would have been swallowed by euphoria and excitement surrounding such pyrrhic victories at global sporting tournaments.
But in this instance whereby the Team Nigeria failed woefully to pick up any medal of whatever colour at the London 2012 Olympics, attention was immediatelly turned to this bogus claim by the Federal Ministry of Sports of this monumental amount of cash wasted to attend the event that turned out a historic sporting fiasco in the sporting history of the largest country of the black people-Nigeria.
One of the most outspoken members of the athletes that made up the Team Nigeria at the just concluded Games in London told the international media that he does not believe that such huge amount of money was ever released or cash-backed for the purposes of training and participation of members of the Team Nigeria to the London Olympics. He said that he came to that conclusion because he practically paid for all his pre-olympic’s training programes and that the Nigerian ministry of Sports are not forthcoming with financial refund for the athletes that constituted the teamNigeria to the Games most of whom live abroad.
Another insider source alleged massive corruption on the part of the Federal Ministry of Sports in the deployment of the budget for the London Games. So far no independent financial audit of the expenses incurred at the 2012 London Olympic has been done and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission[EFCC] are in no mood to investigate the false financial claims.
In his reaction, President Good Luck Jonathan ordered what he termed total ‘overhaul’ of the Ministry of Sports/National Sports Commission but most people know that the current Federal administration and much of the administrations at the state and local Government levels are not committed to the eradication of economic crime and corruption among political office holders and so they do not trust a single word of the warning reportedly issued by the President to ‘restructure’ the near-moribund and corrupt sports minstry.
Already, those who have discerning and articulate minds must have read another sickening story that Government has given the National Sports Commission the ‘matching order’ to ensure that Team Nigeria at the Rio ‘De Janerio-Brazil Olympic in four Years time wins five Gold medals. In the just concluded London Games, the contingent were initially handed an order to win at least eight medals but the Team Nigeria could not pick a single medal even when smaller African Countries like Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia won several medals without spending one fourth of the total heavy cash claimed to have been blown away by the ministry of Sports of Nigeria in the London Olympics.
The poor performance of the Team Nigeria at the 2012 Olympic got to the level of the absurd when a certain claim circulated in the local press in Nigeria that the then Nigeria’s medal hopeful from athletics- Miss. Blessing Okagbare could not win a medal at the final of the 100-meters Women championship won by the Jamaican at the London Olympic because of some ‘Spiritual forces’ caused by ‘African magic”.
By the way, I was not shocked to have read such a weird version in the local media because it is in this same Country that a high profile Government official serving on the Governing Board of the Niger Delta Developemnt Commission [NDDC] from Akwa Ibom state was arraigned by the Economic and Fiancial Crimes Commission [EFCC] and convicted alongside his ‘Witch/native doctor’ for allegedly diverting nearly one Billion Naira to perform rituals so that he can be made the Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is this same country whereby some of the richest aristocrats are members of the Clergy of the many family run faith-based organzations. These very affluent clergy fly around in private exotic jets even when the clear majority of their members are wallowing in unmitigated absolute poverty and can barely afford three quality square meals daily. It is only in Nigeria whereby a Government anti-graft institution will arrest a former Governor of Delta State in the person of Jmaes Ibori for alegedly offering bribe of almost $15 million USD so that he could be set free from the indictment over theft of several Billions of fund belonging to the people of Delta state, only for the serving Governor who is the first cousin of the suspected fraudstar and former Governor to first reportedly claim that Delta State money is not missing but turned around after few years to claim that the same alleged bride money was indeed stolen from the Delta State Government and is now demanding the refund from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
It is only in Nigeria, a country of seemingly unending drama, that this same alleged bribe money that is a criminal case exhibit in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria is now being claimed by a private business man who has proceeded to the Federal High Court, Abuja division to aver that the said bribe money actually belonged to him and that it was sent to the former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu allegedly through the then Presidential Domestic Assistant to the then President Obasanjo and a serving Senator Andy Uba for the funding of the 2007 Presidential Election and he is demanding the refund of this bribe money.
Wonders they say shall never end in Nigeria! But when the inventors of this phrase-‘wonders shall never end’ discovered this saying, little did they know that a time will indeed arrive in a country like Nigeria whereby supposed rational Beings will elevate abasurdity and all-time fallacy to the level of craftmanship and indeed a career and even proceed to swear affidavits in a Court of law claiming that the person owns a controversial bribe/criminal exhibit.
This is shameful despicable and reprehensible to say the least.
Now I know that I have successfully demolished and wiped off all cobwebs and traces of doubts on your mind regarding my first premise that the Physicly-challenged athletes at the ongoing London 2012 ParaLympics with their impressive performance so far will come first in any transparent, free, fair and peaceful popularity contest now and most likely in 2015. So why not let one of the Physically-challenged persons of any of the two gender with formidable academic and moral records to contest the 2015 Presidential Election so Nigerians may witness the midas and golden touch to political leadership that may be brought to bear if a Physically-challenged but morally and academically sound Nigerian citizen is voted in as President in 2015?
I make this emphatic statement because from recorded history since Nigeria gained Independence, we have all but being ruled by persons with all the physical abilities and human physical attributes but lacking in moral rectitude and this is one of the likely reasons for our current state of backwardness in virtually all fields of human endeavor including sports.
I believe that the wonderful peformance of our Physically-challenged athletes at the 2012 London Paralympic Games has demonstrated that there is indeed ability in disability. Nigeria will be better if we vote in one of the many wonderfully gifted, intelligent, morally sound and incorruptible Physically-challenged compatriot to lead us as President in 2015 rather than keep going round in a notorious barbers’ chair syndrome of motion without movement [apologies to one public policy analyst in the early 80’s]. It is sickening and shameful that some persons who claimed to be rational to start campaigning that the current non-performing President Jonathan to contest election in 2015 when it is clear even to the most hopeless mentally wrecked person that this Government is presiding over the worst case of genocide and mass killings in Nigeria’s political history perpetrated in Northern Nigeria by members of the armed Islamic rebels seeking to overthrow the Government and curtail Nigeria’s religious pluralism and the Government has failed woefully to combat this menace. Under this Government, the data of the top officers of the State Security Service [SSS] was hacked into successfully and posted online by suspected fifth columnists within the ranks of the Government funded security agency. How then will any rational person drum up campaign for the return of this non-performing Jonathan in 2015? This madness must stop. Period!
+Emmanuel Onwubiko, HEAD, Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria, blogs @www.huriwa.blogspot.com