By Jacob Ajom
When the history of President Goodluck Jonathan is written, a lot of chapters will be dedicated to his numerous achievements in sports. It was during his regime that Nigeria won her first Africa Cup of Nations in 19 years, remarkably, outside the shores of the country. Before then, Nigeria won the trophy in 1980 and the last triumph in Tunisia ‘ 94 among others.
Definitely, General Mohammadu Buhari has a tall order ahead of him if his predecessor’s track record is anything to go by. Luckily, the President-elect is not a fresher when it comes to governance. As a former Head of State(under the military), Buhari welcomed the 1985 all-conquering Golden Eaglets from China with the first FIFA/JVC U-16 World Cup.
That the team is known today as Golden Eaglets was a coinage by General Buhari when he received the team at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos. Nduka Ugbade who captained that historic team is currently an assistant to the national U-20 coach, Manu Garba. He was also part of the crew that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in UAE.
Buhari’s love for sports has not been loud, but it is on record that he made a surprise appearance at the Abuja National Stadium when Nigeria hosted Brazil in an international friendly. It was during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime when Buhari was in the opposition.
No one can say, for sure, where the retired General would position sports in the scheme of things as throughout his campaign for this election, not a word was said on sports.
The President-elect must however note that sports form a very critical sector in the life of the nation. Those who actively engage in sports are the youth who are the future of the nation. Sports today is more that just a pastime. Sport is a multi billion dollar industry which can offer employment to millions of our youths.
The sports sector deserves the best brains. Seasoned brains that can turn the fortunes of our sports around. Sports is practical and results are the only determining factor that influences team selection, appointments. The President-elect must therefore avoid considerations other than excellence in making appointments to the sector.