Friday, August 10, 2012

Medal for Bolaji “Liu Xiang” Abdullahi (I)

Olympics: I admit we failed woefully - Abdullahi
Minister of Sports,  Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi
The Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, on Thursday did what many other ministers have failed to do in the past. He officially gave a verdict of disappointment at the performance of Team Nigeria at the London 2012 Olympics which rounds off on Sunday.
The Minister who made a review of the country’s performance at the Nigeria House in Stratford, London, said that poor preparations marred the country’s chances at the games.
He said, “Our inability to win any medal so far is disappointing for my team and myself and for all Nigerians. But we must have the courage to see it as it is. This is a clear testimony to how far our sports have fallen behind.”
He, however, said he would not indulge in a buck passing game but would take the dismal performance as “an opportunity to rebuild.”
In allusion to Great Britain and China success at the Games, Abdullahi said everyone in sports administration must face the reality and work the way forward from such outing.
“In Atlanta ‘96, Great Britain won one medal but in Beijing they finished fourth. They accepted their poor situation and reworked their system including financing. In London today they are standing boldly at the third position. This is one opportunity we cannot allow to pass us by.
“Having been made the minister two months to the Olympics, I have learnt my lessons in two weeks in London.
“We have been hoping too much on luck, but for once, God is telling us he’s not a magician; we must work hard to succeed.”
He said the immediate challenge is how to rebuild. He named the National Sports Festival holding in Lagos this November as one to take the first major step culminating with better outing at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 from where the real projection can be taken for Rio 2016.

Medal for Bolaji “Liu Xiang” Abdullahi
The last cerebral sports minister ever produced within the ranks of the ruling PDP since 1999 until Mallam Bolaji “Liu Xiang” Abdullahi is here. I must admit. 
Quickly, Mr. Abdullahi’s Stratford Speech is brilliant, cerebral and can be truly seen as the best any PDP Sports Minister has ever made. He gets a medal for communication! I hasten to say that he has fallen like the Chinese hurdler, Liu Kiang, before the race starts. Why?
1.             Choosing five sports in his opinion is the basis of his rebuilding process. This is a big goof. He has been pursuing this agendum since he was supervising minister;
2.             Using Lagos where the National Sports Festival will hold as the pedestal for reconstruction of the Baghdad of Nigerian sports is a cataclysmic plan for another grand failure. He does not why.
a.    But he laid the argument. Quoting him: “the champion is in the child”. This is true.
b.    He probably does not know that the very best athletes anywhere in the world are products of poor homes. By logic and eduction, the place to start is the primary and public secondary schools.
3.             Abdullahi has virtually declared a state of emergency because of the failure of the system he leads.
To the section of his speech where he listed some of his challenges. This includes,
(a)          If his immediate challenge is how to translate the lessons (if they really learnt anything in truth), the process of rebuilding is and CANNOT BE Lagos. Mark my words again, in time I would be proved right as always.
If using Lagos as the ground to pick the next generation of elite athletes or for the Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow, we should forget it. It is late and wrong. How many kids will be competing in Lagos. We are simply in a hurry to always be in competitions.
If his five sports are for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, he may be right. If it is for strategic development of the nation’s sports, it is simply put, a faux pas.
(b)          The truth which the minister needs to be told is, there are only three sports federations presently in the country. These are: Scrabble, Basketball and Chess in the order of performance, impact and real development. I am waiting to be challenged. The question that the Minister needs to then ask is, how did I arrive at this junction? What has made these three federations different? What lessons of sports democratization can be learnt and used to develop the super structure? What has made them outstanding, different, effective, efficient, performing and accountable?
(c)          The Minister spoke of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) giving funding support to the Nigerian sports industry. Are they Santa Claus? Preachment WILL NOT bring such cash. Until Jesus Christ will come, no such money will come. The environment won’t let them even if they are willing.
Let Minister Abdullahi ask for convincing reasons and refuse to be schooled in the letters of the ‘experts’ in his ministry. He should seek convictions why:
(i)                    Why Team Nigeria died;
(ii)                  Why the Nigeria Sports Development Fund Inc., did not thrive;
(iii)                Why the National Sports Lottery died before taking off;
(iv)                 Why the available sponsors in sports until 2004 pulled out;
As an appendage, if the environment is businesslike with the colours and hues of a serious business as is conducted in smaller African nations of the world, in another six months to one year, he can get a surplus of N5b in his hands and before the year runs out, at least, N8b in the sports industry which is about 45% of the expected income available to the Nigerian sports industry if well harnessed. It is real. It is here. Sponsors need to be begging to catch a space in the industry not you begging sponsors to come on board.
 See you in the part II of this treatise.

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