By Patrick Omorodion
Dear boss, I have known you for close to 29 years from our days in the Concord Press of Nigeria. Even when Concord Newspapers was proscribed by the military government of General Ibrahim Babangida, you served briefly as Editor of the Classique, a tabloid owned by late May Ellen Ezekiel, aka MEE and you took me along as head of the sports desk.
After our Concord days, I was now in the Vanguard Media when you became the Editor of The Sun newspapers. You wanted me to join you in the The Sun as one of the pioneer staff on the sports desk but circumstances beyond my control didn’t permit it.
We have remained very close thereafter and you are one of those I respect in my chosen but accidental profession of journalism which still surprises my Agriculture course mates at the former University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University till today.
I was once in your position, though in a lower capacity as the Special Assistant on Media to a former sports minister, Dr Tammy Danagogo. It was a very short stint, one year to be precise. I remember the message from one of the greatest administrators ever to come out of this country, Dr Samuel Ogbemudia on hearing about my appointment.
Ogbemudia wrote that “Omorodion’s appointment as Special Assistant on Media has come at a very important time.
“It is a time when there is the need to formulate a National Sports Policy that will clearly draw the line on whether our sports should be for recreation only or for national mobilisation, economic growth and international diplomacy.”
The two time governor of the old Bendel State even urged me to use my appointment to “advocate (my) lofty ideas to (my) principals who will ensure the formulation and implementation of people-oriented policies which will change the fortunes of sports in Nigeria”.
But what happened? Not much. Either that my stint was very short to make any difference or my principal couldn’t push through suggestions put to him.
I write because I believe that, unlike me who was a mere Assistant, you are an Adviser of a cabinet rank, more or less equivalent to a minister as you are privileged to sit in council with the ministers.
I also know that President Buhari has a special liking for you and will definitely take your advice on issues even if not on Media.
Secondly, I know you are very passionate about sports even tough you are more of a football person. I say this because I read a book on your relationship with IICC Shorting Stars who were one time camping in your neighbourhood while you were growing up somewhere in the present day Osun State. So sports is in your blood and therefore you will want Nigeria’s sports to be up there.
That is the reason why you should advise your boss that anyone who must be appointed as the new sports minister for his next four year term must be someone who can add value to our sports and take it to the level it deserves to be.
From history, it is like successive governments always resreve the leftovers on the ministerial list to serve in sports. That is why most often, sports is saddled with people who are not familiar with the terrain and even come there to learn about administration.
I am not saying that sports men are good administrators and must be appointed sports ministers. No. There are born administrators who may come from any field and fit into the sector. They only need little assistance from the technocrats they will meet on ground to function perfectly.
A situation where a sports minister will come and add to to the mess in a sector instead of helping to ameliorate it is unacceptable. I know that most members of the outgoing cabinet must have done their best to be reconsidered by the president for a return but I stand to say that Barrister Solomon Dalung is not one of them.
President Buhari in saying that he didn’t dissolve his cabinet in four years because his ministers had their perculiar skill they brought into government, has set some of us in sports to ask what were the special skills exhibited by Dalung that he is talking about? I believe that Dalung was just covered by the blanket positive appraisal the president gave his ministers.
If anyting, the acceptance by Dalung that he approved the spending of the money the IAAF overpaid Nigeria which is putting the future of our athletes in serious jeopardy is enough to cause his sack even if he has just a few days to quit as a minister.
Chief Adesina, sorry I didn’t use your deserved prefix from the beginning, on behalf of all sports loving Nigerians, I beg you to chip in a word or two to your principal, that Dalung has caused more harm than good for Nigeria’s sports and should never be reconsidered for retention as a minister.
However, if he has some ‘special’ skills like the president said, he could be taken to another ministry where he could be more useful as he definitely did not understand the sports sector and helped a great deal to set confusion there.
The system that Nigeria needs is a sports commission headed by sports technocrats and answerable directly to the presidency as was the practice when we had a thorough professional in the late Isaac Akioye who laid the foundation for most of the successes recorded in the 1990s and early 2000s. Akioye, together with Jerry Enyeazu, Abraham Ordia, both late and Dr Awoture Eleyae, a one time secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa gave Nigeria’s sports both meaning and relevance.
If the sports ministry system must be retained, Nigerians want an apolitical, pro-active and seasoned technocrat who can turn the sector around as the new minister to man it and help Mr President to reposition the sector. That is my humble plea and why I wrote you this letter. God bless you.