IAAF president, Lamine Diack left Nigeria last weekend with hopes that Nigeria athletics will be in full bloom again and there would be a repeat of the glory days, that put Nigerian athletes in the bright spot of international athletics.
Diack was in Port Harcourt, River State to receive a honorary doctorate degree from the University of Port Harcourt. He also inspected the IAAF endorsed Port Harcourt High performance centre, which he would commission when he returns in March during the African Youth Championships to be held in Warri, Delta State.
“Diack was impressed with what he saw. He commended the efforts of the AFN president, Solomon Ogba,” said former African long jump champion Yusuf Alli.
He added that the IAAF and the AFN have signed a memorandum of understanding to make the sport popular in schools across Nigeria. This is part of the school youth programme introduced by IAAF to create awareness and discover young talents from the grassroots.
It was gathered that Diack is looking forward to coming back to Nigeria, after he was given a threat by Ogba. Shortly after the awards ceremony, both men flew in a private jet to South Africa, where they watched the Africa Cup of Nations final between Nigeria and Burkina Faso.
This visit by Diack is a refreshing departure from a previous visit in 1997 when he was president of the Confederation of Africa Athletics. It was during the third African Junior Athletics Championships in Ibadan, Oyo State. Diack was locked out of his hotel room as then AFN board led by Tony Urhobo made a mess in organising the championships. This put Nigeria in the bad books of the CAA and the IAAF, it was former AFN president Dan Ngerem that brought Diack back to cooperative terms with Nigerian athletics.