It was amazing hearing Barrister Solomon Dalung, the immediate past minister of sports make what would ordinarily be regarded as a constructive critique of Nigeria’s woeful performance in the just-concluded Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

In the face of the fact that Nigeria won only one medal in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games supervised by Barrister Dalung, he would ordinarily have been shut out of speaking on the fiasco that was Tokyo 2020 for Nigeria.

After all, Nigeria came back from the Olympic Games with two medals(one bronzed one silver), one better than the single medal that Dalung came back with from Rio.

However, the double medal feat will not sweep away the ignominy that Nigeria’s presence in Tokyo brought to the nation.

For one, the global kit making and marketing company, Puma cancelled its agreement with Nigeria during the games.

It was reported that Puma signed a four-year deal worth $2.7m with the Ibrahim Gusau-led Athletic Federation of Nigeria, AFN in 2019. Though the agreement provided for the sports wears company to kit and sponsor Nigerian athletes, the company was said to have been upset when the Ministry of Sports reached an agreement with another company for the same sponsorship.

Alas, if that is not corruption, what is it then?

There were also several oddities on the part of the Nigerian contingent that brought global infamy like one of the sportsmen washing the only sports kit he had a day to his event.
Behold, if a sportsman who ordinarily should be preparing himself for his next event by training, resting or some other engagements takes to laundry a day to the event, how would you expect him to do well in his event?

The single kit given to the sportsman was despite the fact that the Ministry in this particular case had two sources of supply for kitting the athletes.

Was it that some of the kits were collected and privatized by officials?

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The malodourous scandals that attended the country’s participation in the Tokyo Olympics are perhaps what gave Mr Dalung the impetus to make his critique of the developments.

Some leading stakeholders in the game including some sportswriters have told your correspondent that Mr Dalung is not supposed to open his mouth given the personal scandals that attended his oversight of the Ministry of Sports.

The airlifting scandal when Nigeria had to beg for airlines to lift the country’s contingent from the United States to Brazil in 2016 was a sore and sorrowful case.

What of Mr Dalung’s presence in the Rio Olympic Athletes’ Dining Hall? The excuse was that he needed to taste the food to ensure that it was good for our players!

After the depth to which Nigerian sports had sunk in the Dalung era, it was believed that Nigeria would not go worse. But it seems to be the same narrative even under the suave and cosmopolitan Sunday Dare as sports minister.

It is reflective of the rot in the country’s sports organisations that a record number of Nigerians were seen wearing the colours of other nations.

Of course, the president may not have been aware of the situation. Sports was not listed in the three-point agenda of the All Progressives Congress, APC ahead of the elections in 2015 and 2019.

Given that the administration has even made a mess of the three points agenda it promised, it would seem superfluous to nudge the administration towards paying more heed to sports.

It is one sector that binds Nigerians across tribe and tongue as citizens come together during such events to wave the common flag.

One could see the pride with which the American First Lady, Jill Biden led the American delegation to another medals victory in Tokyo.

If things were okay and so long as she didn’t go with a bigger than necessary delegation, Aisha Buhari’s presence could have also have energized the Nigerian spirit.

With Mr President on his medical holiday in London and national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu also on holiday in London, with Nigerian doctors on strike and lecturers threatening another round of strike, it is obvious that the leaders are far removed from the felt needs of the people.

It is because of that detachment that the misdemeanours that attended Dalung’s ministership were not addressed by his superiors in the government.

It is also because of that, that things have continued to deteriorate to the extent of sports ministry officials playing 419 on the collective psyche of Nigerians.

Six years ago when we were all enthusiastic about the Buhari government in its first days in office, I remember a now distraught minister saying in an off the comment remark that Buhari was looking for a government official to jail to signpost his fight against corruption.

Those days seem so far away now. So far and so bad that even officials of the APC, as in the reported case in Adamawa, were in a meeting wishing the president evil!

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