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Athletics, Solomon Ogba and 2017 federation elections. What to expect

*Will election cabal decide the future again?

By Olajide Fashikun

Nigeria’s biggest and seemingly most important sport, athletics, may be passing through some dirty schemes in the process to produce the next leadership. With the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) forcing the nation’s seat of government to intervene in the guidelines initially issued by the Minister of Sports, Solomon Ogba, some of the victims are going to contest.

On the evening of the announcement of the revised guidelines, there was a massive party in some of the quarters. However, investigation conducted by www.gongnews.net showed that the NOC folks had a strong insider to the inner workings of the minister’s office. The fifth columnist runs developments in the office to the opponents. They are always ahead of the minister in all decisions to be taken.

However, outgoing Presidents of Athletics, Handball, Taekwondo, Table tennis and Wrestling are survivors of the revised guidelines. Of these, Athletics, Taekwondo and Handball did not record progress in the last eight years. The new structure allows them to contest for the third terms.

However, when the news of the revised guideline hit the town, there was heavy downcast in the community as many of the new folks who had shown interests in a renewal of the nation’s sports angrily pulled out. No less than 24 such persons were counted.

In athletics, six of such persons pulled out. At the last count, three of such persons have reinvigorated their interest just for the sport.

Authoritative sources disclosed to www.gongnews.net that a cabal of former athletes who are used to making good fortunes from elections may be at it again. In the election that produced Solomon Ogba, a serving governor, Gabriel Suswam of Benue State, was brought in to contest the election. Some folks who claimed they were working for him worked the mills until the last minute they chuckled and buckled under the arrangement to have Solomon Ogba win the election.

Certainly, after spending a fortune, the now former governor got so peeved that he took a complete withdrawal from sports. He saw people from the industry as thieves, con men and cheats.

When Ogba was to come on a second tenure, he ran against Hon Gusau. Mrs Violet Nwadei diplomatically refused to come for the election. She is linked by mmarriage to Delta like Ogba. She pulled out for Ogba to have his way. The election went on the rubber twice until Bolaji Abdullahi was pressured via two of his acolytes who sold out and voted for Ogba to emerge.

With the 2017 elections drawing near, the same folks engineered an athletics stakeholder summit which took place in Abuja. They tested the waters and brought in persons who came and condemned the same Solomon Ogba in very unprintable terms.

Of note is the South East region. They checked the formations and had to force out the chairman of one of the states. The folks sponsored a former female international athlete who was a strong voice at the Abuja summit. She was prepped to take over from the ‘sacked’ chairman.

As part of their preparation for the main election, the female star, Charity Opara-Asonze, was made to attend a recent athletics event where she was to sell her candidature. Events went south. She was made to face the angry crowd while her strong backers just took their bowler hats, did a U-turn, disappeared and left her to face the untidy music.

Are we at the mercy of these folks again? “May be not said a former long jumper who knows of the details of these schemes. They are selling and buying candidates who can drop the money. At the end of the day, the winner of the election will still have to work with them. Its about making money during the election and remaining relevant after the elections.”

With the latest developments emerging from the rubbles, there are new faces coming up that will truly salvage the sport. Alignments are on. Many of the emerging names are working behind the scene to get them working together for the good of the sport. This is only possible courtesy of the new guidelines of minister Solomon Dalung that is throwing some old entrenched forces out of the administration of the sports.

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