By Paul Bassey
Big Brother: Your Excellency, Big Brother has noticed the dwindling fortunes of Nigerian sports and Big Brother wants to find out your opinion on this.
Gov Fashola: Big Brother, I am aware, but it is not as bad as some of us portray it.
Big Brother: Gov what gives you this hope?
Gov Fashola: You cannot divorce sports from the general malaise of this country. It is a systemic problem, one that I believe will go away if weÂ w
Big Brother: Gov, how do we work at it?ork at it.
Gov Fashola: We must first identify sports for what it is, its values and prospects as an instrument of unity and youth development.
Big Brother: Can the governor be specific.
Gov Fashola: If we place sports in its proper perspective we will be able to now work at its positive traits andâ€¦â€¦
Big Brother: Your Excellency imagine you are addressing a town hall meeting. Bring yourself down to our level so that we can best appreciate your view points.
Gov Fashola: That is what I am trying to doâ€¦.
Big Brother: Big brother believes you are not trying hard enoughâ€¦â€¦
Gov Fashola: My argument is simple, that if the government appreciates the importance of sports, then it will enhance its interest, involvement and promotion.
Big Brother: Why has it taken government so long to,Â as you say,Â â€œappreciate the importance of sportsâ€?
Gov Fashola: Big Brother donâ€™t you think the Sports Minister is the proper person to bring into the diary room? He is better positioned and constitutionally empowered to handle this issueâ€¦.
Big Brother: I expected this question much earlier. The Sports Ministerâ€™s session will come. For now, there are a lot of Nigerians who believe you are doing so much for sports that if you were saddled with certain responsibilities, sports will be better for it in this country.
Gov Fashola: What we have tried to do in our little corner has to do with the development of the game in our state. Donâ€™t forget that we are still far off from the Lagos glory of yore. As far as sports is concerned, Lagos used to be number one, not any more, that is why we are working relentlessly to restore Lagos to that enviable height.
Big Brother: The championing of the Okwaraji case was not a stateÂ matter. Also your involvement in the burial of coach Tella was not a state matter. What about the assistance you have rendered to national teams in the area of camping and the likeâ€¦?
Gov Fashola: We are saying the same thing. Those are isolated casesâ€¦.
Big Brother: Big Brother is aware that you have contracted the former president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Engineer Adeyemi Wilson, to help revive track and field in your state. Any dividends so far?
Gov Fashola: What we are doing with track and field we are also doing with other sports. We are not expecting results in a hurry. We are trying to lay veritable foundations for the development of sports and no better place to do this than the schools and at the grassroots.
Big Brother: Today you are doing this as Gov Fashola. What structures are you putting in place to ensure that these plans outlive you?
Gov Fashola: Let us not lose sight of the fact that a senior member of my cabinet is in charge of sports. Also we have brought on board technocrats and professionals, even those who are not indigenes.
With them driving the sports project, it is no more a personal thing but a collective responsibility.
Big Brother: Big Brother is interested in training the trainers. Does His Excellency think that exposing coaches to the type of tasks we undertake in Big Brother House could help bring out the best candidates?
Gov Fashola: If Big Brother is insinuating that a lot of under the table dealings are involved in the selection of our coaches, he will not be too far from the truth, but it is not a universal occurrence.
Big Brother: What is your view of the MRI scan that has rocked the nationâ€™s Under- 17 team?
Gov Fashola: It will end up being a blessing in disguise. Let us not look at it as a Nigerian thing. This is a FIFA breakthrough that will end up revolutionizing the development of youth football. Here we have always regretted the non graduation of our players from their superlative junior displays to the senior cadre.
By the time the MRI scan comes to stay, we will be able to produce players in their proper age category who will end up playing for the country for a long time yet.
Big Brother: I am sure you have something to say on the Super Eagles and what is believed to be a poor World Cup run
Gov Fashola: There is no doubt that we are walking a tightrope, but I remain optimistic. That, is the beauty of football, a sport where a winner does not always emerge till the last blast of the referee’s whistle. Ask Manchester City.
Big Brother: Ahaaaa..that reminds me,Â you are a Man U supporter. How do you react to those who believe, it is unpatriotic to support foreign teams and leagues to the detriment of the domestic game?
Gov Fashola: Very soon we will be told to patronize canoes and not to enter planes because these are made by foreigners. It took the Europeans and others a lot of years to evolve to this level. We are free to use them as reference points to chart our course and focus on where we think we want to get to.
For me, that I support Man U or Barcelona does not stop me from remembering that Stationery Stores was a great club in this state that needs to be revived.
Big Brother: Thank you Gov Fashola. Is there anything you want to tell Big Brother?
Gov Fashola: Not really, except that we are a blessed country with so much potential that if well harnessed, not even the sky will be a limit for our youth.
Big Brother: Okay. Big Brother appreciates. Thanks for your time. Please close the door behind you.
( Governor Fashola in Big Brother House? This is malaria induced dream.)
Keeping NPL out of thisâ€¦â€¦.
Last week we carried a rejoinder by Mr. Ade Ojeikere, sports editor of the Nation newspapers, who argued that the Nigeria Professional League (NPL) should not be credited with the successes recorded by Pillars and Heartland in Africa.
Others have joined the battle as it were and we reproduce hereÂ the mails we got on this issue, all of them ironically, not sharing his viewpoint.
David Danisa says . . .
Mr. Ade Ojeikere may be 49 years old, but seem in want of decorum that comes with maturity, lucidity of thought that comes with understanding and the finesse in conduct and utterance that is expected of a thinking man.
Can it be that Mr. Ojeikere is unaware that his remark on Sudanese women degrades womanhood? Could he not tell that the people of the Republic of Sudan and their culture would be injured by his frivolous, unsolicited and infantile remark?
Is he still oblivious to the fact that he disrespected numerous readers of Vanguard Newspapers with such an utterly uncalled for remark? Was it at all necessary for Mr. Ojeikere to rhetorically inquire of Mr. Bassey, details of the supposedly (promiscuous, flimsy and silly) â€œSudanese womenâ€ part of his story? Should that comment even have thought about, written, or published?
If Mr. Ojeikere and his likes, constitute a visible section of people shaping public opinion in Nigeria (i.e., an essential section of the Nigerian elite class), then we are all in trouble. When the salt of earth loses it taste, what then becomes of the world?
â€¦..What is he talking about?
Oga Paul, since Ojeikere quit NPL, he hasnâ€™t seen anything good of that body. The same Ojeikere who never saw anything good in the NFF,Â is now their mouthpiece. Why is he comparing Nigeria where things are always done the opposite way with England?
Is the Nation where he works run professionally like any English Newspaper? I think the NFF should face the Eagles and 2010 and leave Pillars and Heartland alone.
Pat Omorodion 08052201960
I pity Ade
I want to believe that I can guess what Ade is trying to say but he is not saying it. I do not want to believe he can come out to deny the NPL all the merited glory for what our league has now become.
Chuks â€˜fineboyâ€ Igwe 08025848780
No, Ade No!
I believe I know a bit about the transformation of the league from the NFF to the NFL and later the NPL. Can Mr. Ojeikere,Â in all sincerity,Â compare the paltry sum that the NFA launched the league with and what Chief Obaseki and his lieutenants have achieved so far?
I am forced to believe that there is more to Mr. Ojeikereâ€™s attack than what we have been made to believe.
Never in the history of this country have we had it so well, pushing two teams into the semi-final of the CAF Champions league. Especially the surprise ouster of Al Ahly of Egypt by Kano Pillars who have gone ahead to prove that the victory was no fluke. Mr. Ojeikere should channel his belly aching elsewhere.
Ntiense Imaikop, 4 Udo Udoma Avenue Uyo
He contradicts himself
Is this not the same Ojeikere who was a member of the league pioneer body? Is he not the same one in the board of relegated Bendel insurance? Does he not know that clubs are limited liabilities and there is a limit to NPLâ€™s involvement in their day to day running?
I believe he knows our limitations here and for NPL to have risen above those limitations to create a record in Africa is worthy of commendation.
Fine writer, butâ€¦.
Here is one of my finest writers on contemporary sports issues. But this time around, he goofed. NFF? Abeg
Funny side of life
I plead guilty. That I ended last weekâ€™s piece without the traditional funny side of life is regretted.
This week we go to Warri where Zamfara United is five goals down to Warri Wolves with only a minute to the end of the match. It is reported that a Zamfara defender turned to his goalkeeper and said â€œold boy, I have a feeling we will lose this match.â€
See you next week.