By Cornelius Ehimiaghe
Nigerian sports administrators have a knack for doing things that would make “last minute.com” to envy them. Sometimes, they may not even respond to a basic thing, as an email letter. While IOC and FIFA are currently promoting the safeguarding of athletes, their representatives in Nigeria seemed to be pretending that they have not heard about or seen the memos or emails conveying to them their responsibility in respect of their “duty of care” to Nigerian athletes, children and youths who take part in sport.
The recent disqualification of 10 Nigerian athletes from taking part in their respective events at Tokyo 2020 is nothing short of “systemic adult abuse,” which needs to be investigated by the Senate Committee on Sport.
So far, Tokyo 2020 has been a disappointment for not only millions of Nigerians but also the 10 Nigerian athletes that the IOC has banned from representing Nigeria at the ongoing Olympic Games. The NOC officials and bigwigs are hoping for Okagbare to be a “Blessing for Nigeria” again, for Ese to show that she is God’s gift to Nigeria and for Adekuoroye to make Tokyo her “year of happiness” and singing at the medals podium. I hope this is not going to be a London 2012. If this happens again, some Nigerian sports (mal)administrators are already sensing that their days of collecting “estacode” for doing nothing to develop grassroots sports in Nigeria is at risk.
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CSED Initiate (sport for change NGO), would want Nigerians to reminisce about the year (1996), Nigerian youths showed the world that they are not “lazy.” That was the year a Nigerian Policewoman arrested the world and the footballers united Nigerians who were groaning under the yoke of a military dictatorship. Those were the days when Nigerian athletes were children of the local farmer, market woman, teacher, bricklayer, office messenger and even the unemployed parents.
Fast forward to 2021, if your parents are not Directors in the ministries, you are not recommended by a politician, you were not born abroad and you did not school abroad, you are not qualified to represent Nigeria. The exception to this “new normal” is if these result at all cost sports administrators cannot locate diaspora Nigerian youths, who can possibly consume eba than the home-based Nigerian athletes. Some of these foreign-based athletes are even parachuted into Team Nigeria without them attending a trial or the National Sports Festival.
The failure to use sports to engage and empower the home-based future Ajunwas, the Yekinis, the Olihas, the Waziris, the Odizors,” the Oshonakes, the Inuwa-Rigogos, the Andehs the Usiyens and the Abubakars will continue to breed a culture of hopelessness and disempowerment of our local youths. The result is the “checking out” at all cost syndrome, increased level of anti-social behaviour and the restiveness of Nigerian youths.
So, enjoy our free graphic novel: “NIGERIAN GOLDEN LEGENDS”.