Sports Minister, You’Re Welcome To “Hell” By Desmond Ekwueme
Congratulations, dear Honourable Sports Minister on your new assignment or portfolio assigned to you! Welcome to “Hell”. Yes, sports administration is hell in Nigeria. I don’t mean to scare you sir but this is the reality or gospel truth which should arm you enough to prepare well for the very strange things that will accoust you from today!
This is one portfolio and sector many minister-designate and even ministers or lobbyists dread so much given the very unpalatable developments in sports and the passion Nigerians have for sports. This passion ironically and most unfortunately is often displayed or taken above board. Everybody is an expert of or in sports administration and management in our clime….and this so because those handed with task or responsibility of managing or running sports have disappointed sports lovers and stakeholders….and the country. They are often misfits.
This you will agree sir was the major reason why your predecessor did not return to President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet….which paved way for your emergence sir.
You will also agree sir that you are relatively unknown in sporting circles just as you are arguably a stranger to this sector. However, we have seen persons like you excel in the portfolios assigned to them. Such few persons were willing to learn. They never arrogated powers to themselves nor assumed they have all knowledge. They were sensitive to the people’s desire, wish and demand….above all they had listening ears.
Hon. Minister sir, in case you are not aware there is a cabal within your ministry which works with some elements outside your ministry….their aim has always bern to frustrate whoever comes in as Minister once they fail to control him. So be prepared to face these people.
Sir, the sector you are about to manage stinks with stench of corruption. It oozes with the mess going on in some federations. This has almost destroyed sports. Sports is bedevilled with massive financial scandals, misappropriation and mismanagement of funds. If you must succeed, you have to tackle this monster headlong otherwise, you must have agreed innocently or ignorantly to go the way of your predecessors. It may consume you. The image of the country in, around and among global or international sporting Federations is rather appalling if not disgusting. Our sports administrators are seen as very corrupt. Sir, you have got some work to do in this regard.
Sir be prepared like the boys scout motto says, to face the ever vibrant sporting press. Ours is one of the most explosive or volatile. Those who are very close to your predecessor may see you as an enemy….and attempt to run you down….all in a plot to coerce you to dance to their tune. The fear of the Nigerian sporting press is the beginning of wisdom….But I assure you sir that once you do the needful and of course do them right, you surely will conquer….because the average sports fan will queue behind and in support of you and your decisions.
Sir, please consult widely….ask questions and don’t fail to copy ideas from other successful sporting nations when necessary. I recommend these men to you for consultation. Mumini Alao, Emeka Odikpo, Fan Ndubuoke, Godwin Dudu Orumen, Segun Odegbami, Larry Izamoje, Paul Bassey, Adokiye Amiesimaka, Emeka Inyama, Adeboye Onigbinde, Fanny Amun, Chioma Ajunwa, Falilat-Ogunkoya, Udobong, Mary Onyali-Omagbemi, Innocent Egbunike, Chidi Imoh, Brown Ebewele, Obisia Nwakpa, Jerry Okorodudu, Sebastian Brodericks-Imasuen and Alabi Aissen among others.
Sir, I suggest you call for the documents which Late Pa Isaac Akioye ran sports with in the late 70s and early 80s. You can also consult few persons who were close to Late Patrick Okpomo who even in death remains one of the best sports administrators Nigeria has ever produced. Those close to him who are still alive can give you tips on the way forward.
From my little experience in sports reporting, I will advice you embrace grassroots sports, schools sports and catch-them-young programme. Let’s go back to the roots or basics.
Once you do this, you have successfully avoided this hellish journey or adventure. Truth is sports is in a messy state. Please note sir that the word HELL used in this piece is just for emphasis….It is never my wish for you!
Best of luck sir!
By Desmond Ekwueme