Lagos – Mixed reactions continued to trail the removal Wednesday of Bolaji Abdullahi as Sports Minister and his replacement with Tamuno Danagogo, with some stakeholders expressing shock and some hailing his removal.
In separate interviews with stakeholders across the country, some of them said they were shocked at the removal of Abdullahi, who was until Wednesday also Chairman, National Sports Commission (NSC).
His removal was announced shortly after the regular midweek Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan.
While reacting, a former Green Eagles coach, Adegboye Onigbinde, said the removal was within the prerogative of President Jonathan.
He, however, described the minister as “a hardworking and result-oriented man’’.
The coach said it was during Abdullahi’s tenure that the the Super Eagles won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations under the guidance of an indigenous coach, Stephen Keshi.
“He helped to set the football house in order as soon as he came by, facilitating the appointment of Keshi as coach and proving that he preferred an indigenous talent to a foreigner.
“He was a man determined for success, although with no history in sports administration, and he showed he was competent for the job”.
Chris Eseka, a veteran sports analyst, said the erstwhile minister did well. “He was able to make the industry quieter with little rancour’’.
Eseka recalled that Abdullahi achieved victories in football with the Super Eagles and also with the Golden Eaglets.
“It is just the politics of the life, where they come and go,’’ he said.
Sulaiman Gora, President, Nigeria Scrabble Federation, however said the minister failed to concentrate to develop every other area of sports, other than football.
Gora said the development of scrabble over the last four years had been entirely done through the efforts of members of the federation.
“We never received anything to encourage the development of the game in the country,” he said.
Ebenezer Morakinyo, the Vice-President, Nigeria Volleyball Federation (NVBF), said Abdullahi played key roles in supporting his federation by attending some of their board meetings.
“He was always around to talk to us and our players when we meet as a federation. We were always motivated morally by his kind words and presence among us.
“It served as a great morale-booster for us, our coaches and players,’’ Morakinyo said.
The Kebbi Director of Sports, Ladan Usman, said Abdullahi’s removal came to him as a rude shock.
Ladan said in Birnin Kebbi that the sporting world would miss Abdullahi.
“I do not know the criteria used in removing the minister, but the sports circle will miss a dedicated sports administrator who has achieved a lot.
“He was able to bring sanity to the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) and the league body, as well as recording victories in continental and global football competitions,’’ he said.
In his own reaction, Adamu Erena, the President of Nigeria Squash Federation (NSF), also said President Jonathan was at liberty to hire or fire his ministers.
“President Jonathan is the one who appointed him. He is also the one that has dismissed him. So, I don’t have anything to say.
“But all I know is that I wish him well in his future endeavours and I hope that the new person will take sports to a greater height,’’ he said.
John Jatau, the President of Nigeria Handball Coaches Association, said Abdullahi’s removal was a good development, and advised the new Sports Minister to learn from Abdullahi’s mistakes.
He, however, said Abdullahi introduced reforms in the sports sector, adding that it was left to the new minister to study those reforms and improve on them.
“It (Abdullahi’s exit) is a good development. He had some excesses that needed to be corrected. It is left for the new minister to identify those excesses and learn from them.
“I want to point out that nonetheless, he introduced some good reforms in the sector,’’ Jatau said.
Garuba Musa, a sports administrator, said any political appointee should expect to be removed at any time.
He said the former minister recorded some remarkable achievements, adding that he regarded Abdullahi as the best ever minister to head the NSC.
“But let’s see what the new minister will bring to the table,’’ Musa said.(NAN)