Lagos Sports Still Has Room For Improvement, Says Oshodi
One of the talking points of the administration of Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State is the stride the state’s sports sector made during his tenure.
Fashola has been credited with developing sports infrastructure and governance such that all the federations grew proportionally even with little government financial involvement.
These development efforts have also been attributed to the former governor’s ability to pick the right personnel in the sector, with the period between 2011 and now witnessing the biggest leap in Lagos’ bid to reclaim its position as the number one sports state in Nigeria.
This period also coincides with the tenure of Wahid Enitan Oshodi as the state’s Sports Commissioner. Oshodi, an unassuming lawyer, recently took stock of his time in charge of the state’s sports sector, taking into cognisance the achievements of his ministry, the problems hampering sports development in Lagos.
He reached the verdict that a lot more still needed to be done to create a sports sector every Lagosian would be proud of.
To Oshodi, this dream could be achieved if all the stakeholders remained faithful to the pursuit of excellence in Lagos State.
He says: “The key is to have a clear vision of development and steadfastly pursue this goal, irrespective of the controversies that may arise. When I came in there were certain things that needed to change in Lagos State sports, we set clear goals and I am thankful we were able to achieve a lot of them. Once you sail away from the old way of doing things and towards a path of growth and development, you are bound to face certain obstacles and challenges. With a lot of patience you will manage such situations.”
Reminiscing on the state of Lagos’ sports when he assumed office in 2011 and where the sector is now, Oshodi says, “I can say I am pleased with what we have been able to achieve during my tenure, but there is still a lot of work to be done in sports and my true fulfillment will come when we have fully developed, vibrant, public engaging, developmental and commercially viable sports sector in Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole.
“My predecessor, Prince Adeniji-Adele did a lot of good work and introduced a number of key innovations. I am pleased that I have been able to carry that baton and run a good race, but true fulfillment for all of us sports lovers will only come when sports in Lagos and Nigeria truly begins to flourish and live up to the tremendous potential that we all know it has. I have always set my standards by those attainable in the most successful sporting nations. Until we attain those standards I can’t be satisfied. We have the talent and skills in this country to attain such standards but we need to be visionary, knuckle down and do things properly.”
The former commissioner, who is also a civil engineer, will not be drawn into personally assessing his performance because he believes that the “people of Lagos are very discerning and perceptive. They will be the judges of that. A lot of people talk about the innovations we brought in across the spectrum of sports, but for me personally, if I was to touch upon anything I think it was the wonderful engagement I had with our athletes, especially the secondary school athletes. We made the athletes the centre of our vision.”
One of the innovations his tenure created is the Lagos Sports Classics, which consistently hosted many international competitions. To Oshodi the Classics was what Lagos needed to reawaken some of the dying sports, but he says that would not have been possible with the support and active involvement of the outgone governor, “my colleagues in the Executive Council and the international and national federations across this sports was wonderful.”
According to Oshodi, “the Classics brought together a wide range of Government and private sector officials to work together and the results we achieved were fantastic. It is common to put down Civil and Public servants in this country but my experience with many of them was wonderful. To put together events that attract world-class international athletes takes a lot of planning. I must thank and congratulate all those involved from the Immigration Services, who oversaw the arrival of foreign guests, protocol officers, security services down to our sports officers in Lagos, who went above the call of duty and this was what made the event a success. It gives me great pride to have led such an excellent team. Lagos is now the centre of sports tourism this side of Africa.
“Indeed, any success we have achieved during my tenure is based on the support I received from Governor Fashola. He is not only supportive but is extremely knowledgeable about sports, which has helped me a great deal. When you have a boss who not only supports you but also has vast knowledge and intelligence, it helps to keep you sharp and motivated, which ultimately brings out the best in you.
“Lagos’ sport still has room for improvement. If I had the time I would have focused more on school sports. Going to the foundation is the only way we will succeed as a nation. Get the children playing different sports from primary school, which was the case forty years ago and we have done a lot in this area but there is a lot of scope for improvement.
One of the highlights of Oshodi’s tenure was the Eko 2012 National Sports Festival, which has been adjudged as the best in recent times. Lagos finished third on the medals table, but the state is best remembered for putting up fantastic infrastructure and ensuring a seamless organisation of the different events in the various venues.
Oshodi said Lagos was able to achieve this because it put a lot of hard work into the planning and execution of the project.