minister of sport

? By Dr. Rashid A. Balogun

A hunting lion cannot be said to lack high mathematical intelligence in predicting movements of its prey just as humans, more so, we learnt in the modern age that quantum physics can explain key aspects of any ?matter? in our universe, regardless of how minute it is in size or weight to us. However, an occasional anomaly will occur but such occurrence can also be predicted by some unknown variance missed by the observer. However, the necessary key to mitigate such anomaly is the obligation we placed on ourselves in implementing relevant practical agenda with all human efforts directed towards it just as the hunting lions.

It was argued that the National Sports Commission (NSC) is doing its best in turning around the country?s sports fortune and this writer doubt whether spending monies on toothless panels constitute an effort. The nation sports? buffs queried the quality of individuals appointed by Bolaji Abdullahi (sports Minister) to such unnecessary panels but  there?s no suggestion about lack of credentials, however,  the question that was  asked was simple; to what extent can they (panel members) reverse the negative trends? character of the country?s sports? The answer is quite clear, They can?t do ?nada?. It is also clear that the NSC agenda must focus on purging every anomaly of the system because they have grown to become the custom practiced by NSC.

The Past

For whatever reason, the British and old Military regime immediately after the country?s independence established (what was then known as) community centre in certain areas of the country at that time. One of such areas is Abule Ijesha borders by Army Military Sports Camp, Yaba College of Tech, UNA (near Shomolu), University of Lagos and St Finbarr?s College.

The products of that area includes; Rashid Balogun (this writer also a former athlete), Tony Osheku (former athlete & foremost athletics Coach), Raymond King (former Super Eagles Goalie), Mike Dominick (former junior eagles star), Hakeem King Joe (former world boxing champion), Bremna (former junior Eagles and Super Eagles star), Muda Lawal (former Super Eagles star) and from those that schooled in the vicinity as a youth; Sunday Uti (Olympic bronze medalist) and Super Eagles stars Stephen Keshi, Henry Nwosu, Godwin Odiye and others.

In those days, street by street relays were common to the chagrin of some parents (personally, this writer?s father leads the way in maintaining discipline of all children in the area directing them to go to community centres but I ain?t my daddy but very proud of him then and now). At the community centre in Abule Ijesha; there were table tennis competitions and practice among youths, daily football games (also what was called set where boys choose whom they want on their team while the unselected wait until a certain time to eliminate a player on the losing team) along with inter-club championships, Volleyball and basketball were also played there. Swimmers uses a free flowing pond called ?Odo ogbe? in Onike and Rowe Park. Boxers used Military sports center on Morocco Road.

The area boast of Archie Moore (former World Boxing Champ. At both Olympics and professional level for USA) as a coach, Coach Mommoh of the army who refused promotion and demoted to private for remaining loyal to his youth team comprising Bremna, Mike Dominick, Hakeem Balogun (younger brother of this writer), Raymond King and others. Football clubs in the area included Mommoh Boys FC, Seven Planners (Muda Lawal team), etc. YES, Glory days indeed and this writer challenges anyone to match the record of this area in the entire country.

One word that can describe these activities is ?Community?.

Now

As this writer wrote severally on the current affairs of the country?s sports fortune, it is quite unnecessary to repeat them here as the story continues to build on a daily basis. But the challenges of the media are going behind the result of a game and explain how those performances were achieved with qualitative reasoning rather than propaganda spin by the NSC and sports federations. Selling sports? results may sell very well but to what benefit can the country derive from the new swimming record for men when females from Egypt have better records? Again for what benefit can a report that a Nigerian male ran a ?2hrs. 20mins? new national record for the marathon when Kenyan girls are running faster? This writer is very sure that Nigerians got the point because to expose the rot that the country woeful result means globally could better position the country in the future.

Recently, Bolaji Abdullahi noted that the country will henceforth concentrate on six sports, this is clearly ill-advised considering for years now the country relied only on football with its own budget line item exceeding over N3Billions annually with no tangible (World Cup) result. What the Minister should be discussing is how to fund the youth directly in all sports rather than wasting scarce resources on illegal six sports federations.

Advocacy for the status quo is nothing other than a mere selfish foolish act of deception that few media pundits are using Facebook to chide the youth of today that seeks better welfare and training packages. Although, this writer may not agree or disagree with certain views but the youth and others are constitutionally protected to speak or write without fear of retribution but they must not be offended with opposing views.

Way Forward

The Sports Minister keeps shouting about British system and in fact wasting monies for that purpose just as his predecessors did the same thing with Germany, Cuba and when Australia hosted the Olympics and did very well. Such models presuppose adequate facilities and manpower and they are based on restructuring past weaknesses in certain areas of their country?s sports fortune. Even at that, what was being restructured clearly outpaced Nigeria total medal counts for all Olympics games the country participated in.

In fact many swimmers in one Olympics delivered to their respective countries more medal each than Nigeria in all its Olympics outing and this writer simply ask, is it not better to zoom-in this sport and get just two swimmers from the age of 8 and train them abroad than waste N8Billion on good for nothing sports federations? Colloquially, more bangs for our buck because an athlete (swimmer) can potentially flood the country with about 10 medals.

The NSC must recruit athletes for direct electronic funding schemes through the finance Ministry. Federations can no longer receive any fund from NSC due to lack of NSC control as a result of their independence from national government interference, accountability, transparency, in addition to accusations that those federations short change athletes on issues of government transfer payments.

The Ministry of Education must take over National Institute for Sports (NIS) as the NSC simply lacked the skills to handle any form of education because churned attendees of such institute has yet to deliver any athlete of prominence in NIS history.

Patronage of the Director General of NSC and Bolaji Abdullahi must end and detail list of visitors to NSC ought to be published and archived as the official record. This is necessary either as a security necessity or paper trail for auditors in terms of asset protection.

Finally, it should be obvious that Bolaji Abdullahi simply cannot handle this Ministry and all he has been doing is based on ?trial and error? that is becoming too costly for any country to progress because correcting a faux pas raises eyebrow on how the error was made in the first place. That is the trend that NSC continues to follow regardless of costs, therefore, NSC must be restructured with new set of qualified (academically, professionally and athletically) people along with at least six commissioners as opposed to none as it is now. Yes, Nigerians can guide a horse to water but they can?t force it to drink BUT THEY CAN MAKE IT HOMELESS AND NO WHERE TO GO FOR NEXT MEAL.

I rest

Dr. Rashid A. Balogun, CPA, LLB(Hons.), LLM(London)

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