â€¢ Sports minister canâ€™t stop now
By Tony Ubani
NEW Sports Minister, Isa Bio, may haveÂ been briefed about Lagos State and its journalists and he came prepared. In his first official visit to the once Mecca of sports in Nigeria, Bio came to inspect the dilapidated structures but in an apparent bid to impress the critical journalists, he committed more blunders than the one he made in Abuja.
He said in his first official outing in Abuja that he would make Nigeria regain its pride of place in long distance races.
There were hisses and sighs as many wondered if he was talking to Kenyans. Nigeria had never challenged the East Africans in long distance races but were indomitable in the sprints and jumps. And yesterday at the NIS auditorium, the Sports Minister spoke eloquently about his plans that would
make Nigeria â€œtake its pride of place in the next five yearsâ€ if implemented. But he veered off track again when he said thatÂ â€œAdamawa State has the right ATTITUDE to train Nigerian athletes for international competitions. There were exchange of glances. Perhaps, the minister meant to say ALTITUDE.
One journalist quickly quipped that altitude would always influence attitude. Dr. Patrick Ekeji, Director of the National Sports Commission, NSC, accompanied the minister on his trip. Talking about different sports, Bio said that Nigeria should exploit the rich credentials of Niger Delta people in the area of swimming.
â€œWe should concentrate on multi-medal sports like swimming where there are many medals. There is no how that we canâ€™t haul medals from such sports. Also, we should concentrate on weightliftingÂ like the lightweight category.
Lightweight? There are different weight categories according to their body weights e.g. 48kg, 58kg, 66 kg. Lightweight, featherweight, and heavyweight definitely belong to boxing, another sport that made Nigerian flag flutter in the past.
But the minister tickled souls when he said that there would be no sacred cows in his tenure. He was answering questions on the missing $236,000 from the Nigeria Football Association.
â€œThere is a Government white paper already on it. Just be patient. Whoever is involved will not be spared. I am for transparency and accountabilityâ€, the minister said amidst sporadic applause.Nigeria has always appointed strangers to man sports and Bio is a stunning example.