By Paul Bassey

I was fascinated with the first interview the new Sports Minister granted the media when he resumed duties in Abuja.

Minister Yusuf Suleiman particularly struck me when he declared that thanks to his neutrality and independence, he was better placed to tackle the division and acrimony that was bogging the house of sports especially football.

I thought it was a brilliant thing to say. I thought it also made a lot of sense. My only worry was the life span of the neutrality. In other words, how long were we expecting the new sports minister to remain neutral?

How long before he was bombarded by ‘wise men’ of Nigerian sports eager to brief and advice him on the ‘true situation’ of things?

Since then, the minister has set a machinery in motion for the normalization of affairs in football.

Aggrieved members I was told have been persuaded to with draw their grievances from law courts and bring them home for settlement within the sports family.

One instructive part of this development was witnessed during the attempt by the National Sports Commission under Dr Patrick Ekeji to settle the dispute between the NFF and the self acclaimed NFA.

It was a friend that drew my attention to the fact that officials of the NFF could stay in the same room with those they had “Banned for life”.

I thought this was very instructive. My reply then which I remember very well was that this was not the Lulu administration. The Lulu administration was adept at banning people at the flimsiest of excuses!

You can then imagine my shock when I got a mail on Thursday to the effect that the NFF Disciplinary committee had summoned NPL Chairman Davidson Owumi to appear before it, for offences including taking football matters to court and media statements against a member of the NFF board.

My first reaction was “ we are all guilty”….can I count on the fingers of one hand the number of football people that have taken football matters to court in recent times? Can I enumerate those of us who have insulted or gone to the media to insult members of the NFF Board and indeed board members of other associations? What about those  board members who have said one thing or the other against the leadership of the National Sports Commission?

Wait a minute, I thought this issue was in court? Was it not the debate regarding the superiority of the laws of the land over football matters that has led to the present log jam which the sports minister is trying to resolve?

No, this is not the time to stoke fires. This is the time to sheath all swords and give peace a chance, if not for anything, for the sake of the new sports minister, please.

Fashikun’s quest for more athletics gold

I am one of those who receive daily, (Yes I mean daily) feature articles and views from Olajide Fashikun,Week end Editor of National Accord Newspaper. I believe that I derive some benefits from those articles even though I do not have to agree with his viewpoints.

The latest one has to do with his view that we can get more medals from athletics at the All Africa Games than what we are projecting presently. In order to share this view point with the leadership of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria I have gone ahead to edit his piece……with due respect to all concerned.

Pls read on:

“ I took a studied review of the list ( Compiled by AFN ) vis-à-vis the African records and the records of the last All African games, understanding also that, it will be a miracle for an athlete that can manufacture a new timing at short notice, thus, my mathematical estimation of the possibilities of the Nigerian medal hopes. I am sad to say, ceteris paribus, we may be looking forward to a maximum of five gold medals from this event.

My estimation is based on some other details of development I gathered (which I am yet to be able to confirm yet) but are very strong to be believed. If these developments make a final sense (in a matter of days), then, my estimation will come out perfect.

Are (Our officials) not aware that Nigeria’s Selim Nurudeen ran 20.98secs (1.5 wind) in the 200m on the 30th July 2011 at the Global Track and Field meet in the USA? These are basic data available on the internet. Yet, they registered Obinna Metu (20.84secs) (which is okay) and Agbaje Fredrick (21.32secs) and Oriala Chinedu who definitely is slower than Agbaje for the event. Is this in the national interests. Nurudeen’s timing at the meet in the 110m hurdles is 13.62 secs (0.0 wind) yet, the AFN has him as second with 13.95sec behind Okon Samuel’s 13.92sec. I know and can confirm that Nurudeen has boycotted the games.

One sure medal we (Have thrown) away (is that) of Idiata in the high jump. He had jumped 2.90m this year in Europe. He is substituted with Bayo Adio with 2.10m.

So far, my oracular convictions show five gold medals. But based on the final list the AFN has submitted, there are nine gold medals in our kitty. These are the same chances Solomon Ogba counted to say he will return 10 gold medals in Maputo. These include:

Ajoke Odumosu (has a South African girl with the same timing so anything can even happen here), Jessica Ohanaja, Amaechi Morton, Selim Nurudeen, Doryn Amaka, Blessing Okagbare, Damola Osayomi and the 4x100m women. Between these athletes, we could have been counting 10 gold medals. We would be lucky to get six in the event of what I know which is not yet public for now.

Two quick issues. I had raised earlier the case of three kids who created new national records in Calabar. One of them, Ann, was chopped specifically because she was “indisciplined” for avoiding the World Youth Championship to win the gold medal for her employers, Rivers State.

A visit to the IAAF will show that Chinwe Okoro is listed as number one in Africa in shot put with 16.79m and in discus, she is number four behind an Ivorien and two South African girls with her personal best at 54.24m. Okwukwe Okolie, another Nigerian, is number 5 with 53.34m.

Okolie was registered on the AFN final list for short put Okoro the better athlete was not. Rather, Tayo Talabi with 15m was registered ahead of someone with 16.79m!  Chinwe is far better in performance than the athlete Nigeria registered for discuss. That medal is thrown away deliberately by our own hands.

One quick one. Recall the story on Ann, the young 400m hurdler who was ordered to proceed to the world junior while the National Sports Festival was ongoing.  For that, she was removed from the Commonwealth Youth championships because she is considered to be of “bad behaviour”. I can reveal that  Adejoke Odumosu, never neared Ann’s record before leaving the shores of Nigeria for the USA. Why was Ann not exposed to the All African games ahead of the years to come? See my drift? Instead and to spite the girl, they registered only Odumosu for the event. Uhn!

I read in the papers comments of Mr. Solomon Ogba on Noah Akwu and Godday James. His comments showed that these athletes are “finished and gone beyond their prime.” What are they doing on his list to Maputo?

Ask also, after all the vilifications and vituperations poured on Vivian Chukwuemeka, the AFN can ‘smuggle’ her on the list to Maputo. I am interested in seeing whether Vivian will be ‘stupid’ to attend the games in view of the fact that the AFN has not publicly apologised to her person, coaches, family and friends over all the federation had said about her in the public sphere. On the eve of the games, they resorted to her. One quick question, is Vivian in the current form to defend her title? Did she train to peak for the All African games? Do these people not understand the dynamics and science about training an athlete for championships?

If she is able to answer these basic questions and it fits into an all yes setting but wants to prove a point, she can attend the games without an apology from the AFN. Her only saving grace is to win the gold again, which candidly, given the above scenario I sincerely doubt.

If she is not in the form, she attends, she will be finally messed up. If she attends and fails to win the gold, she is as good as having taken a gun and shot herself on the foot. If she excuses herself what would she have lost beyond being in Maputo and collecting how much they want to pay as allowances?”

See you next week.

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