By Patrick Omorodion
A father who has many children is expected to bring them up well, providing them equal opportunities rather than give preferential treatment to one against the others.
In Africa however, children over 18 still live under their parents and expectedly are still provided for by their parents who still exercise some control over them.
So it will be unfair to hear that a father who has many children will choose one of them to shower love on lavishly and neglect the others completely or show little care for them from time to time.
That is the character the Nigerian government has exhibited over the years when it comes to the development and management of the various sports its citizens are engaged in.
To government, sports begins and ends with football. Even though the percentage of its resources allocated to sports is usually very minute, a large chunk of it is still channeled towards catering for only football which it has always described as the only thing that unifies Nigerians as a people.
Agreed that football has a large followership in Nigeria, it is not true that it is the only sport Nigerians love. It is not also true that when other sports are being played, Nigerians don’t speak with one voice, it is just that the followership is not as large as that of football.
Therefore, it is discriminatory when a football team, especially the senior national men’s team are involved in a competition and a humongous amount like $5,000 which has been increased to $10,000 recently, is approved as bonus for each player for winning just a match and not the entire competition whereas other athletes in other sports get no bonus at all.
That was the scenario in 2015 when the senior national basketball team, the D’Tigers were involved in that year’s Afrobasketball, the sport’s equivalent of football Nations Cup in Tunisia. The players never got a dime as bonus for winning any match until they got to the semi-final but the basketball federation had to appeal to then Director General of the defunct National Sports Commission, Malam Alhassan Yakmut to make a pledge to ginger the players.
What did he approve, $500 for each player if they win the semi match and another $500 if they win the Cup. It was small but it motivated the players to put in their best and they went ahead to win the competition, the first time in the 57 years history of the competition.
The money was not their priority but that is not to say that what is good for the footballers is not good for the other athletes who have taken to other sports. And so the recent dollar rain showered on the Super Eagles who didn’t win the Nations Cup has started an agitation by other athletes who have the right to so demand.
Apart from the $50,000 each of the players got for the five matches they won in the competition, there was additional amount doled out by some individuals which the players were to share.
This was disturbing to other sports that the president of the Nigerian Wrestling Federation, Dr. Daniel Igali wrote that he was “Silently praying and hoping for the day a Nigerian Elite Athlete (not playing Football) will represent Nigeria at the Africa, Commonwealth or Olympic Games and come back home with allowances and bonuses totalling $10,000”.
And just a few days after Igali penned his feelings, another voice was added. Captain of the Super Falcons, Desire Oparanozie piqued by the huge bonuses their male counterparts get, argued that they deserve equal pay because they are more successful than the male team.
Hear her: “We are the most successful female team in Africa, yet we have the largest disparities between men’s and women’s pay. I think we deserve equal pay. This big gap tells a different story and a proper rethink of this mode of payment could also help the women’s game.”
The agitation is getting hotter and the earlier it is addressed, the better for the country and the athletes themselves otherwise, the country will see more athletes adopting the nationalities of other countries were their welfare is more guaranteed.