By Ben Efe
Unless there is a direct intervention by the government and concerned individuals, Nigerian athletics will come to a standstill in the new season.
A member of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria hinted that for now, there is no plan for the 2017 season, because the members of the board who kept the sport going in absence of any funding from the Sports Ministry have chosen to take a back seat. And coupled with the fact that the federation is in transition, there is uncertainty and things have virtually come to a grinding halt.
“No one is ready to stick their necks any more. In the past by now we would have got some activities going on despite zero funding of our activities by the government.
“I don’t know what will become of athletics in Nigeria in the new season. Unless there is some kind of intervention, we might as well forget about our programmes,” said Professor Ken Anugwueje.
In April the World Relays is scheduled to hold in the Bahamas, Nigerian relay teams need to participate to have a chance of competing at the World Championships billed for August in London.
Also the the maiden World U-18 Championships is billed for Kenya in July, but there are no indications a team will be ready by then. This is because there might not be local competitions for the federation to select athletes.
This development is already raising concerns for Nigerian elite athletes who need to improve on their performances to get a slot at the World Championships.
“It is God we are hoping on now,” said Rio 2016 long jump women finalist, Ese Brume.
In the words of former African 400m champion and still Nigerian national record holder, Innocent Egbunike: “Praying for our beloved country. Prayer changes things. God can do all things but not fail.”