Minister Dare and politics of the Olympics – Part 2
That said, how did Dare perform at the Olympics? Having only been in office for about two years, should be take the blame for failures of some past leaders like Dalung? Records in the public space shows that Nigeria got a bronze medal in long jump, 25 years after Chioma Ajunwa won gold in Atlanta 1996, and that Nigeria won a silver medal for wrestling, first Olympic medal ever in the sport’s history, aside a 21-year-old Enoch Adegoke who became only the third Nigeria to get to the Finals of the 100 Meters Men event. There is also the record of Nigeria bagging two medals, a silver and a bronze, placing her sixty-eight out of the two hundred and five countries at the Tokyo Olympics and fourth in Africa, besides Nigerian Olympians making record final finals at the Olympics. How about the Nigerian Olympians setting several new personal best records in Athletics, or reaching the final of shot-put for the first time in her history, and performing better when compared with London 2012 Olympics with zero medal and the Rio 2016 Olympics with one bronze medal?
Are these being examined, or should we assume some politics are simply playing out? It was naturally worrisome seeing a sportsman who rather chose to manually wash his jersey, instead of using the washing machine, if for the sensational effect, but also salutary to read from the other side. Check: “Firstly, for kits or sports equipment for Team Nigeria, there are two (2) categories: these are the General Wears and the Competition Wears. The General Wears category is the responsibility of the Ministry. The kitting of Team Nigeria for various National, Continental and International sporting events has always been the responsibility of the Ministry and this was no different for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. For the records, Team Nigeria was properly kitted for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with the Ministry buying a 9-item bag of kits for each of our athletes and officials. The second category of kits is the Competition Wears. This category is the specific competition kits which are peculiar to each sport and provided by individual Sports Federation”
And also, we have been told that the Ministry provides financial support to each Sports Federation as required, and it is the responsibility of each National Sports Federation to provide these Competition Wears to their team athletes and officials, and for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, each of the Sports Federations bought the Competition Wears for their respective teams, in relation to their specific needs. The AFN got enough specific wears from AFA Sports directly for their athletes at the Games, while the Ministry leveraged on the Local Content Policy of the Federal Government in looking inwards to engaging an indigenous company, AFA Sports, to produce the general kits.
It was equally interesting to hear the Minister on the controversy Puma deal. Hear him: “We are optimistic. Many people don’t know the truth. It was expected that Puma would end that contract. Why not? The kits provided by Puma were a subject of litigation. But people will soon know the truth. Those who bought the kits are running from pillar to post and one media to another to tarnish my name and make me look like the bad guy. Is their concern really about the progress of Team Nigeria? Or they are afraid of what is going to happen when this massive case of fraud unravels? I have no regrets at all. Yes, the Puma kits were available before we went with our Made in Nigeria kits, which are equally beautiful and durable and also good for our economy.
“The Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo unveiled the kits, so you think he would take part in that process if the kits were no good? It is common knowledge that the former AFN president, Engineer Ibrahim Shehu Gusau with his co-travellers is desperate to extricate himself from a contract that he controversially signed the AFN into, which has now placed him in a position of trying to blackmail Team Nigeria into wearing the kits. Ibrahim Gusau has conveniently neglected to tell Nigerians that he and Sunday Adeleye signed a non-disclosure agreement with PUMA, which details are unknown to the Ministry and board members of the AFN. Nobody will blackmail Team Nigeria into wearing those kits, they can raise all the dusts they want, but the dust will eventually settle and then they will dance to the music” The issues, might after all not be sports alone, but the politics of it. For the latter, Dare has been salutary. For the former, time will tell.
Adeniyi, a professor and public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja.
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