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Former Minister, Abdullahi, decries Nigeria’s poor preparation for Rio 2016 Olympics


Former Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi

Former Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi

Former Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, has decried the low-level preparation of the country’s athletes ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics.Speaking on Wednesday in Abuja at the opening ceremony of the third international conference of African Sports Management, disclosed that it was unfortunate that the situation had persisted in the nation’s sports sector.

According to him, Nigeria’s casual approach to preparing for competitions would not yield any meaningful result.“I don’t see anything that suggests that we are embracing a different attitude towards preparing ourselves towards a major tournament like the Olympics. I don’t see anything that shows that we have done anything intensive for Rio better than we did for London. Therefore, I don’t see anything that put me in the position to say that we are going to do better in Rio than we did in London

“I heard that the national team going for the Olympics were kicked out of the hotel because they were owing the hotel about N73 million, but we built a hostel; that hostel can take athletes, why is it not being used?

“If N2.9 billion was released for the Olympics, of course it is public money; there is a public system for accounting, so the money was released for people, they were not released to ghost, so we should explain what happened to the money,” he said.

According to Abdullahi, “We need to understand one thing, N2.9 billion is a lot of money, but releasing N2.9 billion for preparation for a tournament is the same thing that we have done in the past that have not worked for us.

“What we are saying here is that it is about time that we began to build systems. How many athletes do we have all over the world? One of our athletes sent me an SMS some days ago begging for money to continue her preparation; she said that they had to do it by personal self-help. We need to set up a system that delivers grants directly to manage their own preparation. So that we you are talking about papering for a tournament, it would only be the final phase for compete in international platforms, it means that you have to constantly have access to funds that would enable you to manage your own training.”

He, therefore, advised sports-loving Nigerians not to expect the country’s athletes to perform miracles at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The former minister added that Nigeria didn’t perform well at the 2012 London Olympics because of the facet that he was made a minister two months before the sporting event.

“I was appointed minister two months before the Olympics in 2012. What do you want to do? Olympics preparation doesn’t take months; it takes years of painstaking planning. The children that would go to the Olympics in Tokyo 2020 ought to have started preparation like now, if not even before now.”

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