By Emeka Obasi
This sports minister comes with a lot of difference. Sunday Dare must not fail because so much is expected of him. So far, there are no strictures from anyone and the man’s first outing in Morocco was not bad at all.
Something tells me that the man who will change the face of Nigerian sports has finally arrived. In the last 20 years, all manner of men were appointed sports minister. Some were so bad that if there was an interview to select them it would have saved the country a lot of embarrassment.
I want the minister to see himself as the tool God will use to save our youth from doom. That is why I have dubbed him minister for junkies and cultists. These bad eggs of today could be transformed to become heroes of tomorrow.
We have to look at the root of this national decay. It is not just enough to blame the younger generation. This country destroyed their tomorrow and we are paying for that.
Instead of exposing them to sports from cradle, previous governments packed them in schools with no playgrounds, all in the bid to educate everyone. The result is what stares all in the face: Schools everywhere, criminals all over the nation.
Dare should not think of winning medals first. He must sit down and work out a plan of action. This country is blessed with talents. What needs to be done is to make the best use of them. And I want to tender my humble homily.
For starters, the minister should invite this group of Nigerians to a family meeting in Lagos. I am not talking of a seminar or stakeholders gathering. We have seen enough of all action and no function.
I have some names that will help this renewal. These persons, about 15 of them, will say it as it is. Chief Segun Odegbami may not be liked by many so called stakeholders but he knows more than they do. This man is an asset.
Dr. Bruce Ijirigho and Godwin Kienka will explain what it means to groom talent. In terms of administration, Kweku Tandoh, Tijani Umar, Paul Bassey and Col. Abdulmumuni Aminu know the politics.
Chioma Ajunwa, Daniel Igali, Austin Okocha, Falilat Ogunkoya and Mfon Udoka did their best for the country. They understand the athletes more than even some of the coaches. There is so much to hear from them.
Onochie Anibeze and Tony Ubani are among the most exposed sports journalists here. Some of the things they know will startle the minister. Journalists interact with athletes, coaches and officials.
Dare could add four more names. I am sure by the time they gather in a quiet hotel in the Ikeja area of Lagos, on a Saturday, so much will be achieved. Just invite them over on a Friday, meet all through Saturday then disperse on Sunday.
After this ‘August Meeting,’ the next step is to visit the education ministry. There should be a national policy stipulating that all schools, from primary to secondary, without play grounds should be shut.
This is necessary because kids who were trained without any recreational activities will end up as societal problems. All the energy they could not burn out growing up may be diverted to criminal activities.
There must be a way to marry sports and education. There should also be a deliberate attempt to clear our youth from the streets and engage them in sports. Are we not tired of seeing gangsters and strippers all over our cities?
I would task Dare to plan for a Sports University of Nigeria [SUN] and the establishment of a sports town in each geo-political zone of the country. We also need to talk about the National Sports Hall of Fame.
These ones will not be built in a day but the willingness to do something must be there. It is not about seminars and conferences. We have seen enough of these talk shops which achieve nothing.
I am glad the minister is coming from the business community. I am talking about corporate support and connections. He should visit such big concerns like NNPC, Shell, MTN, NIMASA, Mobil, NCC, Glo and Conoil.
Dare must befriend Aliko Dangote, Jim Ovia, Femi Otedola, Emeka Okwuosa,Tony Elumelu and Ifeanyi Uba. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has the key to a lot of treasures, this is a tower of strength. The minister understands my lingo.
These are reliable sources of support, not the Federal Government. If Dare has to lie on the floor for our cash czars, it is fine for our sports. The important thing is that the money from them should be well utilized.
The Sports University will help our athletes who face the difficult task of combining education and sports. If it will take a medical student a few more years to graduate from the sports varsity without missing important world events, that is alright.
Sports Towns will lure the youth away from drugs and yahoo Plus. As long as there are facilities to train, many young people will be engaged. An athlete who is preparing for a tournament will be burning out the tracks instead of joining cults.
The National Sports Hall of Fame should be built in Lagos, the Centre of Sports. In 1999, sports minister, Emeka Omeruah, set up a Board of Trustees for the Hall of Fame. It was headed by another ex-minister, Tony Ikazoboh.
I was on the board with Akeem Olajuwon, Ambassador Ladan Shuni, John Fashanu, Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima, Professor Emiola Lasun and Noel Okorougo. Hogan Bassey, the first Nigerian world champion, brought his gloves.
Justin Onwudiwe, one of the 1949 UK tourists, was so happy that there was an attempt to build a monument in recognition of past heroes. That was the end. I think in 2014, another minister tried to revive it.
Oh! Jamaica, Land of Speed Demons. That is what Nigeria should be. Linford Christie, Donovan Bailey, Ben Johnson and Usain Bolt are all Nigerians. Jamiacans are Nigerians.
There is Calabar, there is Abeokuta in Jamaica. Dare should raise world champions here. It is in our blood.