Alhaji Shuaibu Ahmed Gara-Gombe, remember him? He is one of Nigeria’s foremost sports critic and former Chairman of Gombe State Football Association. In this exclusive interview with EXTRA TIME Sports Editor, ANDREW EKEJIUBA, the highly travelled sports technocrat speaks on Team Nigeria’s chances at the forthcoming Rio 2016 Olympics and gives reasons why he has called for the resignation of the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung. Excerpts:
A few weeks back you did tell Extra Time that Rio 2016 will be Nigeria’s worst ever outing at the Olympics, have you changed your mind?
No, not all! I still maintain my stand in that regard.
Why do you say so, after having seen some of our athletes currently battling it out and securing slots during the qualifiers for the various sports for this global event?
I must be sincere to you, Team Nigeria are not ready for the Olympics holding in Rio, Brazil. How can we excel at the Olympics where we have poor planning, dirty politics going on, corruption and mismanagement of funds also going on in the sports sector and we feel all is well? Never!
We need transparency in the Sports Ministry and judicious use of funds for our athletes for the qualifiers for the Olympics. As far as these major ingredients are not on ground for Team Nigeria, forget it!
Can you take a look at some of the sports we have qualified for at the forthcoming Olympics and assess our chances of winning medals from them?
Like I said earlier, only a miracle will help Team Nigeria in this regard because some of our athletes that have qualified in their events are not yet in camp, so what are we saying? For those who are yet to qualify are on their own!
Let me take an example, in boxing, the last time I made a check we only have three boxers that have so far qualified to fight in their weight categories in Rio and the rest are begging alongside the Nigeria Boxing Federation to allow them to come in as wild card entrants. Things are never done like that! It simply shows that we are not serious and the Sports Ministry has failed Nigerians.
Take a look at athletics, any hope for Team Nigeria?
Sincerely, what happened at London 2012 Olympics is going to be a child’s play when compared to what is going to happen at Rio 2016.
Take a look at the performance of our athletes at the World Indoor Games in China; it was very poor, so expect no miracle at Rio 2016. Now the so-called consultants Angie Taylor and Eric Campbell are taking our athletes to United States for training tour and are also just picking athletes at random without serious trials; everything about the preparation of Team Nigeria is badly managed. Before you know it they will start looking for mercenaries like we used to do in the past.
Take a look at the performance of the Sports Minister, Barr. Solomon Dalung, are you impressed with his achievements so far since coming into office?
Dalung is Nigeria’s worst Sports Minister ever since independence. It is quite unfortunate he came in at the time the country is yearning for change in almost every sector of our life and the economy, but in the sports sector the situation is very bad and unpleasant.
Why do you say so?
Since Dalung came in as Sports Minister, he cannot even fight corruption that has eaten deep into the fabrics of the sports sector. He can’t fight corruption, he is not accountable to anyone, he talks too much and he scrapped the National Sports Commission for his selfish reasons.
Dalung is busy traveling everywhere in the world without reason or results. He created confusion in our country’s football; he ignored other sports and had no programme or plan for sports development in Nigeria.
What then is the way forward?
The only way forward is for Dalung to resign as the Sports Minister because he has failed Nigerians, or for Mr President to sack him because we need a fresh start in the rebuilding process of sports development in Nigeria.
You made mention of the Minister infringing into football matters and causing havoc in NFF, can you throw more light into your claim?
He created the problem in our football by trying to help his friend and kinsman become NFF president through the back door. Now it has back fired!
You mean Chris Giwa?
Yes that is correct, and Dalung attempted to hold a peace meeting which he lacks the capacity to mediate. He ended up embarrassing himself and the position he holds as a Minister such that in the presence of a Federal Minister two contending camps were almost physically boxing and abusing each other in his so-called kangaroo peace meeting; that shows lack of capacity on his part to do such!
But, there are indications that Amaju Pinnick is still battling Chris Giwa’s camp, or you think all is well in NFF?
That is the Minister’s game plan to create confusion and set up normalization committee, but it soon consume him too.
QUOTE: “Dalung is Nigeria’s worst Sports Minister ever since independence. It is quite unfortunate he came at the time the country is yearning for change in almost every sector of our life and the economy, but in sports the situation is very bad and unpleasant.”
QUOTE: “Dalung attempted to hold a peace meeting which he lacks the capacity to mediate. He ended up embarrassing himself and the position he holds as a Minister such that in the presence of a Federal Minister two contending camps were almost physically boxing and abusing each other in his so-called kangaroo peace meeting; that shows lack of capacity on his part to do such.”