By Trigo Egbegi
I thought I had tendered boxing my final submission an the state of amateur boxing in Nigeria way back October/ November last year when this column ran a give- part serial to highlight the leadership short-comings and the resultant fall of the sport for close to two decade running.
I, honestly, thought I was talking sense making reference to the Brai Ayonote era as a watershed the nation misses, largely on account of the inability of succeeding administrations to keep pace since the pace setting Air Force officer exited tragically December 1992. I drew attention to George Taylor’s unfulfilled promises while campaigning for office of Nigeria Amateur Boxing Federation chairman on the heel of the failed Igbinedion / Ayeni tenure.
And when I climaxed the serial with the piece anchored less on indictment than resolve, I was very certain it was a far less hazy road map towards attaining the dizzying heights our boxing was identified within its heydays.
Meanwhile, Yours Truly was not unmindful of the frailties dogging the born- again Nigerian nation desperately swimming against currents that have come with delusions of democratic principles. Ours is a warped society in a hurry to succeed without, of necessity, recourse to conventional planning. Herein lies the foundation for our countless accomplishments in the football sport – by hook or by crook.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not necessarily subscribe to the theory that running the affairs of a nation of 150 million people be left in the hands of just a few – for life. Even regardless of a high degree of success recorded; this is the theory that gives rise to dictatorial tendencies and the inevitable uprisings they brew. Contemporary instances include Gaddafi’s Libya; Mubarak’s Egypt; Assad’s Syria, and – preceding these – Sadaam’s Iraq.
Yet, commonsense dictates that it is better to leave preparation of the family’s pot of soup in the hands of a selected few than invite multitudes for the same purpose. That would be inviting calamity.
Here I am, returning to the subject on which I lavished so much attention late 2010, and in the process won myself a lot of friends and foes. Yes, the same issue that erupted following the woeful failure of Team Nigeria (boxing unit) at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India, where not even one among the five boxers fielded came within sight of a medal. O yes, the same issue that was laid to rest with the in-house explosion that torpedoed Signor Taylor right out of the hallowed NABF office he occupied.
There was so much more I wrote on this vexed subject of the collapse of our amateur boxing over the years and the willful non-performance of the administrations which, rather than build on what was laid by the late Ayonote, chose and conspired to uproot the terrain they met.
Most significantly, I expressed a glowing fancy for the emergent new administration under the conspicuous leadership of General Kenneth Minimah who made it clear he has come on board the troubled ship essentially, to re-invent the sport from being the nation’s ailing baby at all international gatherings of the nations sportsmen/women. Besides, he impressed by indicating he would desire a setting in which the military will recapture its past reputation as a factory for the production/promotion of the nation’s outstanding amateur boxing champions.
But that is not where I’m going. I’m here today to remind us of the continuing embarrassment of not being able to explain our failures in the chain of Global, Regional and Continental sports gatherings Nigeria has attended since 2000. Fact is, we always plan to fail. Successive administrations fail to take into cognizance the cold fact that success in the sport is based, largely, on calendar preparation involving training and competitions (local and overseas) spanning the four-year cycle. It is stringing together a programme of events kicking off immediately at the end of one Global/Regional/Continental fiesta to the next one. This is what had been neglected all these many years past.
It explains the reason I’m not expecting much by way of results from the Minimah administration that is barely nine months in office. I’m not that sure the General himself expects much from the upcoming All-Africa Games in Maputo. Except he, too, has been bitten by the ‘magic’ bug by which Nigerian sportsmen have brought home honours we did not prepare for. I’m certain it is not beyond him to formally declare that Team Nigeria to Maputo and London (for the 2012 Olympics) would be better off without a boxing squad.