By Ben Efe
Sports Ministry’s permanent secretary, Olusade Adesola’s threat to ban Blessing Okagbare, Tobi Amusan, Divine Oduduru and others from the 2020 Olympic Games has been faulted by ex-internationals, Adewale Olukoju and Olusoji Fasuba.
The Nigerian athletes had voiced their desire to stay away from the All Africa Games, citing non payment of their allowances from previous outing with Team Nigeria. They also believe their energies should be channeled towards the World Athletics Championships billed for Doha Qatar in late September.
However, Mr. Adesola, who is towing the line of former NSC director-general, Alhassan Yakmut who issued a similar threat in 2015, said that the All Africa Games is like a qualifier for the Olympics, adding that the athletes should count themselves lucky to be included in the Games list.
But national discus record (67.80m) holder since 1991, Olukoja stated that,” It should be an honor to represent the nation and I believe these athletes feel the same.
“The problem is the way athletes are treated by those in charge of the tournaments they compete in. “There are things that have happened up till recently that are causing these athletes to speak out the way they are doing. There have been competitions where the officials would use the athlete’s dollar allowances and then repay the athletes in Naira back home or in some cases fail to repay the allowances all together.
“There are allowances from years ago that have not been paid. These are just two examples. Until most of these root causes are dealt with, it is “stationary in square one”.
Also speaking, Fasuba who remains the fastest man in Africa with his 100m record of 9.85secs argued that the AAG is never a qualification ground for the Olympics.
“It is only in Nigeria that the officials and ministry think that the AAG is a means to qualify for the Olympics mainly due to the fact that they can’t successfully host a National trials.
“The current problem we have with athletics, in my own view, is that the current set of people heading the federation are so busy looking for posts or favours from the IAAF for themselves instead of trying to build the integrity of the federation.
“We need a more active president that has time to visit the foreign based athletes and give them words of encouragement and a few pennies to help out with their well-being so that they don’t feel like they are slaves in their own country,” Fasuba said.