The Tokyo Olympics has come and gone. But what is on display for Nigeria is not simply the two medals (a silver and a bronze), which its athletes won. It is the shameless and fantastically corrupt nature of those who rule us.
Ten out of the fifty-eight Nigerian athletes at the fanfare were disqualified. An embezzlement scandal also burst out over the $2.7m deal with Puma to kit up the athletes.
The athletes were disqualified because the Ministry of Sports failed to ensure that their Out of Competition Tests (OCTs) was completed. The OCT is used for anti-doping sampling by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU). Altogether, AIU banned twenty athletes from six countries, with half of this number being from Nigeria alone!
The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) did not say anything in response until Blessing Okagbare, one of the eligible athletes, criticized the AFN in solidarity with her colleagues. And the response it made thereinafter was nauseating.
On the one hand, it said, “the AFN bears responsibility for any lapses that may have occurred during the process and reassures Nigerians that our performances will not be negatively impacted.” On the other hand, it described athletes denied the opportunity to participate due to its incompetence as just “a few athletes in the American collegiate system.”
The aggrieved athletes protested in Tokyo. They expressed their anger with the question: “why should we suffer because of someone else’s negligence?” Socialist Worker shares their anger and understands their frustration. AFN’s half-hearted acceptance of responsibility is not enough. Officials concerned in the AFN should be made to resign.
It is shameful, though not unexpected that even the athletes that competed have tales of woe. Chimezie Metu of the basketball team told a newspaper in the United States that:
“It’s extremely difficult to go out there and try to focus on the basketball game when you’re dealing with so much stuff off the court. For a lot of athletes that are here that represent Nigeria, our country, we’re ready to risk it all and put it on the line, but our government and the Olympic Committee of Nigeria, make it extremely difficult to go out there and just focus on performing in our sport.”
The reason for this horrible situation is not farfetched. These officials, like other members of the Nigerian ruling class and its shameless bureaucracy, are only interested in what they will chop. The Puma deal scandal is a demonstration of this.
As it has now turned out, Ibrahim Gusau, the retired engineer who is president of the Nigerian Olympic Committee and Sunday Adeleye of the AFN, signed a non-disclosure deal worth $2.7m with Puma to supply the athletes’ kit.
They did not carry along other top members of the Ministry of Sports and AFN board. Obviously, because they wanted to chop alone, and those ones too, who were less concerned about the fate and comfort of athletes or consequential costs for the government, bided their moment since they were not invited into the likely chop chop. They simply canceled the deal at the last moment.
Now, on top of the fact that athletes could not be properly kitted or benefit from the largesse that it appears they would have had access to with the deal, the Federal Government will have to pay Puma back the said amount for the deal.
This is nonsense. But those that rule us are characteristically nonsensical. It is about time we stopped taking their contrived nonsense. We urge athletes to organize themselves into unions. These unions and not some shameless staff or political lackeys appointed by the government should be the ones who determine the people that run the administration of sports.
by Segun OGUN