There is no doubting the fact that Nigerian sports industry is in a traumatic stage of haemophilia. Planted on the track to its recovery are so many mines –institutional, psychological, cultural, corruption, ineptitude, man-know-man, nepotism, favouritism. On the other narrow but slow path are such persons like merit, accountability, transparency, result and such other structures.
Now, the understanding like I postulated in celebrating the paralympians is that, as a nation, teams that had never been catered for by our administrators have always done well. Ask the Tunisia 94 Nations Cup team. The paralympians had always been in a deserted format.
That is why I insisted that God may have decided to bring honour and respect to them by ensuring that the able bodied are thoroughly humbled. Even at that, there is no lies in saying that for the London 2012 Olympics, we have never had a respectable preparation before a major championship.
I also stated firmly that since 1979 till date I know. At least, I was at the All African Games in Cairo (1981), Algeria, Harare and Johannesburg. I attended two Senior World Cup Games, two junior world cup. Seven African club championships (four with Nigerian team –Niger United of Minna).
It is true that Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi influenced that difference. Some fellows we had shared perspectives over the years felt I should not have said the truth in that direction. One even said that “victory has many fathers”. Even for the able bodied, they enjoyed a good three months preparation that was very un-Nigerian.
It is important to also state that the 62-days off-shore training of the paralympians WAS NOT and CANNOT be why they did well in London. They had already through thin and thick worked too hard, harder than the able-bodied, to deserve what they got.
If you must appreciate these issues. Yu have to be close to them. Their living environment is inhuman. The conditions under which they train is un-Godly. They have to do some other things like taking ownership of the bus stop of the National Stadium in Lagos to earn some money which they live on.
This is why President Goodluck Jonathan should not only please in the name of God
(i) Honour them at a state dinner;
(ii) Give them national honours;
(iii) Give them cash;
(iv) Give them houses. (Not like that of the 1994 African Nations Cup heroes many of who are yet to get their houses till date).
Now, so long as the President, Goodluck Jonathan, has not, like his party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has not decided otherwise, I also know in leftist politicking that the best way to hijack a plane is to be inside it.
No wonder the sage, Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo instructed his followers never again to boycott any election because fools will rule over them from within those who participate in the process.
So, the onus of the path to tomorrow still lies on the shoulders of the Mallam from Ilorin, who understand the issues of development as THISDAY’s Development Editor. This path is strewn with so many expert minefields. Those who do not want the status quo to change and those who want a change.
It is the responsibility of the Minister to dance in the minefield, meet his task as defined by his employer and expected by the Nigerian public. Yet, he must be so nimble in his dance steps not to be caught. It is a national duty he can’t fail.
Let us pray.