I received a number of calls after I dished out last week’s menu on the plight of Nigerian Referees. While some felt my position on how Referees had carried out their function was not rightly captured, others agreed and eulogised my view.
Whichever opinion you share, let’s as usual continue the conversation after you might have read and understood my line of thought on sundry issues concerning Sports development in Nigeria.
This week, I planned to further delve into the systemic wrath plaguing the operations of refereeing in a ‘soccer-dominated’ country, full of comedians in the name of administrators but I decided to switch and beam searchlight on continuous infrastructure decay within Nigeria Sports.
So let’s go there.
Let no one think or be deceived that all is now well with Nigeria sports, more so football just because Super Eagles against all odds qualified to be among 32 countries to feature in Russia when 2018 FIFA World Cup gets underway.
Yes, Nigeria has picked another World Cup ticket. It is also true that the country’s senior Men and Women basketball teams did well at African championships earlier this year. It’s true that a 23 year-old Nigerian freestyle female Wrestler, Odunayo Adekuoroye won silver at a world wrestling championship in 2017 plus other trail-blazing results churned out by Nigerian athletes all over the continent and globally, that is not to say that Africa’s most populous Nation has reached Eldorado ahead of numerous sporting events in 2018.
From Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Abuja to Lagos, then move on to Bayelsa, stop by in Enugu and other parts of the country, the state of Sports facilities is nothing to write home about not to even talk about.
Many upcoming athletes have over the years been left to fend and fetch or locate no training equipment/venues for themselves. They groan daily without any form of succour from anyone including Politicians that will prefer to use and dump them as destructive political tool while their own Children chill and enjoy the paraphernalia of all they need to fulfil their desires.
Not even members of the National Assembly both at the upper and lower chambers show genuine concern to rescue People from their very constituency. The much they could do is to visit few Sporting installations and cry foul once every year in the name of oversight, shortly before various Stakeholders manning different positions within the Ministry of Youth and Sports will come calling to defend paltry amount allocated to entire sports fraternity which is suppose to cater for millions of unemployed youths, most especially Sportsmen/Women and the decaying facilities.
These Lawmakers, particularly those appointed to be members of Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Sports care less of real indices that should metamorphose to the development of this all-important sector.
Earlier this week, members of Senate Committee on Sports embarked on their usual annual ritual of visiting Abuja National stadium. Afterwards, the Senators condemned everything they saw around the sports arena.
While I listened to chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, Senator Obinna Ogba, a former board member of Nigeria Football Federation who has been around one sport or the other for a greater part of his life lamented about the deplorable condition of the football pitch (which has never been used since this year began) and other facilities within the stadium complex.
As I read his lamentation line, firstly, I wondered why it took him and his group this long to visit and acknowledge the infrastructure wrath which has been in public domain barely three years they been in office. Again, I was surprise as the way they expressed shock over numerous facet of the Abuja sporting edifice which is now a shadow of itself. Perhaps, the Senate Sports overseers haven’t witness other federal government-owned stadia in Lagos, Kaduna et al.
One should ordinarily believe that since they are meant to have first hand information about the state of Sports equipment all over the country, instead of support their colleagues to jack up the amount appropriated to them for 2017, they would have made ceaseless case for more funding for Nigeria sports infrastructure. The total budgetary amount for the entire sports this year is far less than what some government departments or agencies spend within a short period.
When you take a look at the composition of both sports committees of House and Senate in the 8th National assembly, you will hardly dictate any of its members that have single sports-related investment around his neighbourhood. They care less of the teaming ‘jobless’ youths scattered all over the Nation.
Instead, these Lawmakers lay siege for public Servants or anyone concerned Person to visit, and then lobby them before they will begin to take any meaningful look at the needful. When it became obvious that 2018 will be full of activities in Africa and beyond, Youth and Sports Minister, Barr Solomon Dalung cried out to Senators and House of Representatives members whose major interest is how each of them will be factored into travelling outside the country and embark on sightseeing in the name of being part of Nigeria delegation to international sports events.
Apart from some Lawmakers that United States officials accused of committing sexual offence when they are supposed to be out there for serious business, another honourable member with Sports committee (whose name I won’t mention now) was alleged to have committed similar foul in London during 2012 Olympic game. How many do I have to recall now?
The only advice I have for the Legislators is for them to explore their oversight mandate to enforce remarkable development before posterity will dust them off. Even when most of them think they will always go back to their senatorial zones or constituencies to win election and return back, the unknown could rear up its head. If any of them is in doubt, consult former House of Representatives Committee chairman, Godferey Gaiya.
That reminds me, we are already in December and I think it’s now safe to wish esteemed Readers a Happy and hitch-free Christmas in advance. To my Muslim faithful, barka Eid-Maulud!