BY JUDE OPARA, Abuja

Expectedly, after the shame of Rio 2016 Olympics where the country only managed to win a bronze medal courtesy of the National U-23 football team, Nigerians have been inundated with all manners of excuses of what happened at the Games.

Dalung-Buhari

The office of the Minister of Youth and Sports whose responsibility it was to prepare the country’s contingent and its affiliate the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) have been on the wrong side of the scale of evaluation.

However, the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung who was at the centre of the whole drama due largely to his unpopular policies has been shouting the loudest arguably in an effort to exonerate himself from any blame.

But beyond the denials and even the engagement of some fifth columnists who have been granting all manners of press interviews to underscore his innocence, it is pertinent to take a critical look at the fate of Nigerian sports since the appointment of the Plateau State administrator in November, 2015.

It must be mentioned that on arrival, the first thing Dalung, who has never been heard around the sports circles did was to engineer the scrapping of the National Sports Commission (NSC) and redeployment of its Director General, Alhassan Yakmut.

This paved way for the appointment of Mr. Chinyeaka Oha as the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports where Sports has now been more or less demoted to an ordinary department.

Suffice it to note here that this development has only placed the responsibility of managing sports in Nigeria on two people who are complete strangers to the running and administration of sports. And the result is what we have been witnessing in sports administration in recent times.

Many analysts believe that Dalung erred in the removal of Yakmut who has been a seasoned sports administrator apart from having played volleyball for the country in the past.

Apart from technically reducing sports that had been under the presidency as a commission to a mere department under the new dispensation, the way and manner Dalung has handled other sports issues have left more to be desired.

Those who are sympathetic to the NFF strongly believe that the new wave of crisis between the Chris Giwa group and the federation was fuelled by him after his bizarre attempt to resurrect the matter even after Giwa had earlier withdrawn his Court case against the federation.

Another issue is his seeming penchant to blame other people for anything that goes wrong under his watch. A classical case is his clash with sports journalists last April after he persistently accused them of being compromised to write stories that he never liked.

What really angered him was when the media reported the reaction of Yakmut who he had accused of not briefing him of how the N2.9 billion the federal government released for the then NSC in 2015 before his appointment was spent. The said fund was for the nation’s participation for the 2015 All Africa Games, the Youth Olympics as well as preparation for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

But the greatest in his series of gaffes is the international embarrassment that trailed the country’s U-23 football team prior to the just concluded Olympic Games.

Dalung had curiously denied knowledge of the team’s trip to Atlanta, USA where they trained ahead of the championship. He had even claimed that probably the Chief Coach of the team,

Samson Siasia was engaging in human trafficking.

But in a recent interview, Siasia told Sports Vanguard that Dalung lied because he personally discussed the issue of his taking the team to Atlanta for the pre-Olympic camping with him even before they left the shores of Nigeria.

Whatever be the case, I strongly believe that it was absolutely wrong for the minister of the federal Republic to just open his mouth and label a national ambassador like Siasia a human trafficker without any form of evidence.
From the way he has carried on so far, it must be stated that the future of sports in the country will not likely record any remarkable improvement before the 2019 All Africa Games.

The Minister should stop talking as if he is in a competition of who will win an argument. Also he must watch his penchant to talk down on other people at the slightest opportunity.
Many analysts believe that unless we begin today to prepare for the next Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan in 2020, we will equally return with little or no medal like we have done in London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.