By Ikeddy Isiguzo
THOSE in the group dubbed Elders of the Nigeria Olympic Committee deserve commendation for stopping the proposed NOC elections from holding in Dutse, Jigawa State last Wednesday.
Fears that the elections would have finally buried the NOC were real. The titanic contest between the Minister of Sports/Chairman of the National Sports Commission, NSC, Mr. Sani Ndanusa and Mr. Abu Gumel had torn the NOC to shreds and left enough wounded interests that Nigeria’s participation at the 2012 Olympic Games in London has been hampered without either party caring.
The NOC is already fractionalised almost beyond redemption. Presidents of sports federations have divorced their loyalty from the NOC. They are aligning with the NSC (Minister of Sports). It has not taken much preaching for them to realise that the same fate that befell Gumel – suspension from his seat as President of the Nigeria
Volleyball Federation – could have been their lot if they insisted on anything other than the Minister being NOC President.
More work remains for the NOC Elders. They have to ask for new nominations for the contentious position of President. Before that is done, it is important to amend sections of the NOC constitution that has excluded almost everyone from contesting that office.
Another important assignment for NOC Elders is to get Mr. Ndanusa and Mr. Gumel off the race. They have NOTHING (absolutely NOTHING) to offer the Olympic movement in Nigeria. For them, the presidency provides just additional title to the many they bear, without any plans to make meaningful contributions to the organisation.
Even if they have plans, they do not have the capacity (time, energy, vision, vibrancy, commitment, dedication, knowledge and aura) the Olympic movement in Nigeria requires at the moment. I have earlier described them as distractions to the NOC. I think they are becoming obstructions too!
I would go through their credentials again even at the risk of boring those who have following this campaign. Mr. Ndanusa is the Minister of Sports/Chairman of the National Sports Commission, Vice President of the African Tennis Confederation, President of Nigeria Tennis Federation, a water engineer, serving in many committees and interventions to make water available to Nigerians. Where would he find the time to run the NOC?
There is even the larger moral question involved in a man who presides over all sports in Nigeria (government business) taking over the NOC, a private side of sports. If there are disputes between the NOC and a sports federation that comes to him for adjudication where would he stand? What informs this grabbing attitude?
Mr. Ndanusa is making every effort to free himself of allegations of forging documents to qualify for the election. I wish him luck in that enterprise, but he should concentrate in running sports. He has made little success of that beat just as his anonymity with tennis continues, yet he would not relieve himself of the burden of being Minister of
Sports and President of the Tennis Federation.
Mr. Gumel was President of the NOC for eight years, IOC Member in Nigeria, Vice President of the International Volleyball Federation, Treasurer of the Association of Olympic Committees of Africa, ANOCA, and President of the Nigeria Volleyball Federation, as well former President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria, positions that put him in many committees on engineering.
His own moral burden too has to do with how as IOC Member, he would tackle issues with sports federations, including his volleyball and then the NOC. He too should quit and keep his IOC position. Volleyball in Nigeria can do with another President.
People who point to examples of countries where their sports personalities operate in multiple capacities fail to recognise the multi-skills involved, which are lacking here, and the fact that in those places, sports organisations function effectively because of the quality of individuals in their various committees. The same committees in Nigeria are peopled with cronies, whose only qualification is that they have the connections to the sharks of Nigerian sports.
Once the NOC Elders are able to clear the path of these obstacles, the elections should hold (may I repeat without Ndanusa and Gumel contesting) to pave the way for a direction of selfless services to Nigerian sports.
All those taking contrary positions know that they are placing the interests of Nigerian sports beside those of individuals who are in a title race that is an end in itself.
Neither Ndanusa nor Gumel should be President of the NOC. They cannot provide the leadership the NOC requires because of the demands of their other responsibilities. I have to keep repeating this as both men have ceased to listen.
SILENCE over $236,000 missing from the Nigeria Football Association since last March should worry anyone who knows how easily this meagre sum can be forgotten. FIFA giving us $1 million to prepare for the World Cup is not good reason to allow $236,000 to disappear. All the outrage has gone. My fears are that with the inexhaustible euphoria over Nigeria’s qualification for the 2010 World Cup, it would not be too long before discussions on this money disappear too.
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