By Ikeddy Isiguzo
WITH only 25 days to the first in the series of elections that will hopefully produce new winners, new ideas for the country. Candidates are taking their campaigns round the country. Their concerns are wide, the issues are being raised and the cadence of their discussions denotes the importance of the issues.
There is none of the candidates telling Nigerians what he intends to do for sports, or with sports. Does it mean they do not know or they do not intend to have anything to do with sports? Has sports become so unimportant? I suspect that is the situation.
Once, sports posed some solutions to the challenges that the country faces. Its uplifting of young people to prominence, offering them scholarships abroad, bred a new interest in activities that used to be seen as worthy of riff_raffs.
The success of our footballers in foreign league helped in multiplying the interests. From ordinary sports people they became super stars, business people with holding that arrested the interests of the authorities.
How quickly the times have changed. Today, sports is making immense contributions to the problems of Nigerians. The poor conduct of sports officials, the scandals that swirl around the activities of the Nigeria Football Association, are important reasons for people to pay more attention to sports.
Now, they are the best excuses for no new investments (even if it is only interests) in sports. Ignoring sports is not new. Few candidates have manifestoes that say anything about sports. They have new excuses to continue. Why do we wonder that they do nothing for sports when they are in office? The fault is partly that of those who have anything to do with sports.
The silence that we are offering candidates in an area of our core interest is unacceptable. Who would speak for sports if we are silent? Are we waiting to keep complaining about being neglected?
It is true that governments over the years have left sports on the fringes of national attention. The speeches that are made about sports are laced with negligence. Of course, they are made as duty, not some profound inputs to improving sports.
Governments do not know what to do with sports, so they cannot imagine what to do about sports.
To our collective shame, those who should have let governments into the importance of sports to the well being of the country, are busy craving out niches for themselves as disputants in elections or have dented the image of sports so much that they are treated with scant attention when they want to raise issues on sports. How would the politicians take sports serious when those who should promote sports are busy demoting it?
Everyone who knows candidates for the 2011 elections should get them to make some commitments to sports. The time is now. Those who are committed to sports should get our votes and hopefully save us from more lamentations.
We must be more pragmatic in getting solutions to sports. Daily, millions of Nigerians invest their time and other resources on sports. Whether it is the English Premiership or an athletics super meet in Zurich, they are in it, but you will never miss the diminishing presence of Nigerians in these places. Talks of the greatness of Nigerian football are a farce. We have lost in Africa. Without the resurgence of our female teams, we would have gone out of the football frame entirely.
The pomposity of football administrators, their ignorance and the unending craving for the bizarre remain on a record high. They bungle opportunities after the other without flinching. They are in a race to prove their worth in this worthless venture.
Sports, more than ever, is in trouble in these shores. People began with lessening their interest in sports, now most of the interest has been exported to foreign leagues whose football games are available on television.
Many of us are deluded about the importance of sports. If sports is as important as we preach, why is government doing nothing about it outside the belated release of funds for sports? Someone should tell us what he is going to do for sports in office. We do not have too much time left between now and the elections.