Listen up sports loving Nigerians! I’ve got something to say. Well, according to some people that will be an understatement with capital letters. But here I go, he who learns from past mistakes is likely to enjoy a better tomorrow and it takes less intelligence to comprehend necessity to learn on a daily basis because a child seeks to learn without any background to do so. The point is, in Nigeria Sports administration less effort are made to learn about workable solutions rather the modus operandi is continuation of mediocrity by the same zealots time and time again even with acknowledgment that such people are up to no good in any respect, except perhaps their private lives which all of us got no right to intrude or invade.
He who finds himself in a burning house is expected to do whatever to get out of the fire and during such time, does it matter how the fire was caused? I think not. NFF is reportedly broke and what got this federation (declared illegal entity) broke quite simply matters-not to any independent observers. National Assembly (NASS) funding such rogue entity can only justify its action by saying that the so-called federation was funded for acting its’ civic duty on behalf of all Nigerians to present National teams in international football. Though commendable in such sense but shouldn’t the NASS review such spending and the structure in place when the amounts involve exceeded N2Billion? I think NASS must do so immediately.
My learned friend Mr. Adokiye Amesiamaka suggested that Sports Minister has within his mandate (NFA Act 2004) to get Football administration in order but I disagree because that Act was ill-conceived on international law point of view. Agencies of Federal Government of Nigeria should not have been involved in any sports federations who are affiliated as agents of foreign organizations in the first place because of their governing rules and by so doing the perennial interference issues became live and remain so ever since. To revert back to what should have happened back then is what I think Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi is trying hard to do.
And quite frankly, Sports Ministry function should have been materially development and presenting national teams along with funding stadiums and ‘any’ sporting organizations, clubs, etc. that approaches it. This action of directing all funds for football at Football federation is share nonsense and it must stop. Football federation can source its own funding just like any other football academy and they have been doing so to the tune of N1Billion plus. Street clubs, Community clubs, primary schools, secondary schools, universities and others should be able to approach Sports Ministry for funding that is currently been directed at NFF. When this is done, Nigerians will come to believe that Sports Ministry really exists and sports at grassroot level now can be comprehended by Nigerians.
Other concerns on Nigeria Football is the scandal surrounding age cheats at the African Youth Championship where at least three Nigerian boys were thrown out and in the few days after that action Nigerian Football administrators said the lads will be upgraded to Junior team without retribution. The concern here is simply, how can anyone not say Football Administrators deliberately aided and abetted these young cheats? I’ve got my theory but its far worse than this but confirmation is needed before disclosure as such I will rest at this juncture on this concern as I have made known many allegations on age cheats in many articles in the past. Enough about football for now.
I read an article in Daily Trust about get tough policy on performance enhancing drugs with additional support from UNESCO and I was encouraged because not too long ago I mentioned Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) celebrating some past drug cheats and abandoning others as rotten apple along with clean cut former stars.
In that article, I noted discriminatory attitude towards clean former athletes where Mary Onyali, a known former drug cheat was been paraded in all sorts of events by AFN both locally and internationally and she also enjoys contract from AFN. While all of these are happening, Falilat Ogunkoya, Pat Itanyi, Fatimat Yussuf- Olukoju, Soji Fasuba, Modupe Oshikoya and others were barely mentioned or recognized anywhere in Nigeria.
My aim was to put a beam light on doping violators parading themselves as role models that I think is serious foolishness because my children and others with the knowledge of these individuals’ past cannot in any sense finds way to call them role models. The question then is why Sports Ministry failed to publicise this issue and made publicly available records available on its website because AFN did not do so as required by World Anti-Doping Agency of disclosure. Such disclosure will forever let the world know of Nigeria’s intention to eradicate the problem. Again sports Ministry must put real action in place by creating a section on its website listing all banned athletes (current or former) for the whole world to see because these individuals were alleged to be part of the doping concern.
In that respect, Chioma Ajunwa re-education of athletes on doping must be commended and I honestly think she is better suited to deal with this concern as she has been doing head-on with acknowledging every conceivable negative impact she suffers. Whereas AFN is celebrating Onyali (former drug cheat) who was never in the same calibre as Ajunwa in any sporting events or professional life and I ask what message is the AFN sending to our Youths compared to Ajunwa’s education to them.
If I have my way Chioma Ajunwa will head Nigeria’s Doping Education Committee for all sports. Femi Ayorinde has done lousy job in this regard and must be retrained. To catch a thief requires knowledge of how to steal and I doubt Ayorinde ever competed in organized sports that could be proven.
Furthermore, the so called federations’ election will be considered a sham exercise to waste funds meant for athletes and by the look of things there will not be money left for the National Youth Sports Festival that supposed to start later this year. I’ve got a book coming out soon on sports governance but you must be mindful of the legislative acts and accounting figures within it that will make you jump out of the window with amazement on how monies were spent by NSC in the past. A hint is the appropriation of N4Billion for borehole at National Institute for Sports in Abuja. Borehole by Federal Government in the year 2009 and a blind man (woman) will say I can do it for a mere N5,000.
Dr. Rashid A. Balogun, CPA, LLB(Hons.), LLM(London)