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Chioma and the “where was Jonathan?” drama

Paul Bassey
It was in the Punch Newspapers that I read about Chioma Ajunwa and the “Where was President Jonathan” drama.

According to Pius Ayinor, during the press conference announcing the Police Games, the Policewoman was asked about the largesse that has come the way of the Super Eagles for winning the Africa Nations Cup. She replied that she got an MON, but without the EY, making reference to the Super Eagles, who got MONs with a lot of EYs.

By way of comic regret, Chioma asked “Where was Jonathan?” If President Jonathan was in power, for winning an Olympic gold medal, the least Chioma Ajunwa would have gotten, by way of EY, would have been 30 million naira.

We are writing here about the Olympic Games, a global feat that does not come easy, reserved for the very best, and in an individual sport for that matter.

The story brought to the fore the argument advanced by sympathizers of the so called lesser sports who argue that should they have even as less as twenty million, they will take their sports to greater heights.

Not here the argument why they have not been able to break free from the apron strings of government, waiting perpetually for government crumbs called subventions to be able to advance the course of their sports.

Linked to this argument is the sponsorship package that accrues to successful sports men and women. As if we did not know, it was the Tiger Woods episode that brought to the fore the millions that sports men and women make from endorsements and sponsorships.

Most recently, the Blade Runner turned Blade Gunner Oscar Pistorius is also involved in a scandal that threatens his earnings and endorsements in the lucrative world of sports management and consultancy.

Just on Saturday, I read about the millions that will be made by British Athlete Mo Farah should he agree to take part in only thirteen kilometers of the London Marathon.

I quote “ Mo Farah is set to pass Jessica Eniss as team GB’s top earner with a deal to run just half of this year’s London Marathon.

The track star is set to be getting 250,000 thousand pounds for doing only the first 13 miles on April 21.” Should he decide to go all the way, the report says he will definitely get more.

The moment the latest deal is signed, this will take his potential post Olympic earnings with sponsorship and merchandise to 3.75 million pounds!

Renowned runners like Paula Radcliffe and Steve Cram have dubbed it a “little strange” and “ difficult to comprehend” That, is the benefit of success.

Do I have to repeat here the millions the Williams Sisters make for just playing tennis? What about other tennis players in the circuit, men and women who every week earn millions for just swinging the racket, sometimes for less than two hours?

Sometimes I ask myself, what is so fantastic about tennis that we cannot introduce our children to it, develop them to be superstars? Yet we have somebody who has decided to be a dog in the manger of our tennis for only God knows how long with nothing to show for it.

Last week I did mention in my column that it takes not less than 80 million naira to organize one Super Eagles match. I have since been corrected that it is in the region of 110 million naira. I agree that for half the budget of the NFF in a year, we can nurture and produce two or three world champions in certain sports, if only we knew how.

I also made reference last week to the situation in South Africa where multiple sports are thriving, where football cannot really claim to be the dominant sport, not with rugby and cricket boasting full houses every match with lucrative sponsorship in tow.

It is on the strength of this that I welcome, whole heartedly the decision of the National Sports Commission to sweep clean all the Federations and Associations with a view to turning them around. If I heard well, no more the patronizing posture of appointing friends to board of associations and so on. Now, even the passion for the sport may not be enough.

I pray that God gives us the will to do that which we say IJN.

Minister as soothsayer

After the Sports Minister “had visited home” he went back to Johanesburg where he told his friends and subordinates that the Super Eagles will beat Mali easily, that Ghana will not survive Burkina Faso and that the final will be tight but that at the end, his country will triumph.

When Burkina Faso beat Ghana as he had predicted, against all prognostications, one of his aides told me that there was need to go home and sleep believing Nigeria will win the cup and that is exactly how it turned out

See you next week.


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