By Ikeddy Isiguzo
STANDARDS are almost impossible to keep in Nigeria. In the instances that we opted for low standards, we are still unable to keep the marks that we have so lowly set for ourselves. The National Sports Festival is suffering the same affliction.
Today, I am congratulating Gombe and Sokoto States for winning no medals at the just concluded National Sports Festival. Others may laugh at them, but I hope that one day, we shall hold festivals where States win medals because they have worked hard, not because they have upstaged all the rules for the Games.
How many States that won medals at the Games have a sports programme that can produce the athletes who won those medals? Has money become everything in sports to the extent that States no longer consider development of their young people through sports?
I also hope that Gombe and Sokoto States do not become so desperate that they fall into the trap most States are in now. They must win, they have won, and they return to awards and rewards from governors who live for the day. Neither the medals won, nor the winners are products of the festival that we know. For them the festival is about winning at every cost.
States that did not do well have a simple argument; we did not have enough money to prosecute the festival. Who will contest their point? Are they not right?
Are we talking about names falsified to enable athletes contest in more Games than the rules permit? Will we forget state officials who will pay anything to influence results? Are organisers unaware that the one-month residence clause makes mockery of the festival? Are foreign-based athletes able to meet the one-month rule?
Earlier regulations that were made to prosper the Games have been replaced by those that reward States for winning, no matter how they won, and not minding why they won. The introduction of cash rewards for the three top winning teams will worsen the craze for victories at all costs.
Age is important to things in different ways. Ideas expire over time or they need to be re-charged in line with the times. The National Sports Festival is an idea whose time will pass by the next Games, if there are no deliberate efforts to take the Games away from desperadoes who win and must win to maintain the pretence that sports is developing in their States.
The challenge is not whether the Games will survive, but in what shape it will now that States will do all things to claim the President’s prize.
Too Illegal To Count
I WAS at Godwin Spiff-Sagbama’s television programme, Sports Buisinezz last week and expectedly the issue was Nigeria’s football, mostly the legality of the two bodies contending for the properties of Nigerian football.
For the benefit of those who did not watch the programme, I want to make a clarification, which I think is necessary. From the reactions I have heard, so far, some viewers went away with the impression that I was supporting the interim NFA board over the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF. Nothing can be further from the truth. I was asked about the status of both bodies. I clearly stated that they were both illegal.
The reasons are simple – the interim NFA board was not elected in line with the provisions of Act 101 of 1992, the law that established NFA as a parastatal and the NFF (which emerged by change of name from NFA) is non-existent according to our laws.
We therefore have two illegal bodies, which remain illegal, no matter whatever good intentions they could have for the game.
Solution to this convoluted crisis is easier than most people are willing to admit. Football has run itself to a halt, the National Sports Commission, based on the powers of the Minister of Sports under Act 101, can constitute an interim board to run the NFA until the elections are held, preferably using the Statutes, so that the structures for the game at the base – districts and States – are established by elections at those levels.
Nothing can be easier, but things are complicated by those who want to kill the game, for it is the only way they can profit.
Ghana, Again, Again
WITH the attention we pay football, the All Africa Games will almost be a non-event for Nigeria after the ouster of our two football teams. We lost both slots (men and women) to Ghana. I was amused with all the pre-match boasts of the fire that awaited Ghana. It now seems that the fire has burnt us. We have to start learning to take ourselves serious.
Anyone who thinks the illegalities around our football for years can go unpunished and we still make progress knows nothing about effects and consequences (even implications) of how we do things.
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