By Sylvanus Ofekun
The appointment of Mr. Sunday Dare as the country’s Minister of Youth and Sports Development was viewed by many as a good step in the right direction by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The applause was as a result of the disastrous performance of his predecessor- Barrister Solomon Dalung (a performance that led Nigeria to finish second in the overall medal table at the All African Games held in Morocco), a man who was well known by his odd dressing (red beret and khaki) even though, he started on a good note but didn’t finish well.
Dare’s triumphant entry into the country’s sports sector erased all the unenviable achievement(s) Nigeria had in recent times before he assumed office as the hardship of two ministry in one ( Sports and Youths). Shockingly, Hon. Sunday Dare’s poor administrative acumen in handling crisis in the country’s largest sports federation, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has changed sports stakeholders’ perception of what the minister intends to do in sports.
The minister’s myopic sense of judgement in quenching burning issues when the country’s athletes were in Doha for the World Athletics Championship, was a questionable as he was quick to jump to Twitter, stating that he has ordered the recall of the Federation’s Technical Director,Mr.Sunday Adeleye.
Mr. Sunday Dare skipped administrative protocols, all in the name to grab the headlines without recourse to the Ministry’s director of Elites Athletes Department for proper briefing of what the issues were in Doha- Qatar.
Despite unsettling the camp in Doha by his action and poor handling of dispute resolution, the Minister impulsively set up a committee to probe the Insipid performance of team Nigeria when the country actually won a bronze medal at the world championship- a feat Nigeria last achieved in 2012.
The committee which comprised oppositions from within the AFN, were obviously unhappy with the leadership and prejudicially finished its job within a week without a single blame on the ministry for late release of funds which hindered the team’s inability to prepare adequately for the championship. The minister quickly announced the sacking of Mr. Sunday Adeleye as the Technical Director of the AFN based on the recommendation of the said Panel.
Being a Journalist armed with the constitution of the AFN, I knew the sports minister lacks the powers to sack the federation’s Technical Director.
The taciturn president of the AFN, Hon. Engr. Ibrahim Shehu Gusau who knows his onus waved the minister’s directive aside and continued with his constitutional duties of piloting the federation.
Meanwhile, Mr Dare whose body language showed his determination to cause more crisis in the federation, arranged for a kangaroo board meeting presided over by his kinsman and coterie, Hon. Olumide George to suspend the AFN President, on Gusau; and this action led to factions in the federation with suspensions and counter suspensions.
Although, the Gusau led faction approached a federal high court in Abuja for proper interpretation of the binding rules of the federation, then came the big ruling by Justice A.I Chikere of the federal high court Abuja on July 2, 2020. The judgment was explicit, stating that it is only the Elective congress of the Federation that can sack or suspend the President, adding that the suspension of Hon. Ibrahim Shehu Gasau was null and void.
Justice Chikere also held that it is only the President that can appoint or sack the Technical Director of the federation, and the judge maintained in its court judgment that Mr. Sunday Adeleye remains the authentic TD of the federation.
In a swift reaction to the judgment, the Director Legal Services of the ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Danjuma Muhammad played down the judgment of Justices A.I Chikere stating that the judgment is a declaratory judgment in which the rights of both parties were spelt out; insisting that the ministry will appeal the judgment.
Appeal the judgment? So Dare came to sports to chase and drag persons who are against his view to court? It’s ridiculous because an impoverished ministry is now so rich and ready to drag stakeholders to court. Why is Dare so interested in bring down the country’s largest federation? What happened to the various allegations against the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation? Why is the Minister’s silence so loud concerning the numerous allegations against some powerful individuals in our sports?
The Olumide led faction recognized by the sports ministry cannot relate with the continental and world bodies unlike the Gasau faction that relates with both bodies but unrecognized by the sports ministry.
The minister wanted to be the “don Clericuzio” in sports by appointing those who run the various federation as he tried with Para power lifting by ensuring that the President, Queen Oboh was fired.
The Minister should state his vision and purpose for sports with a well-defined timeline which would engender purpose driven goals- because his Oyo ambition to run for Elective office has become an open secret.
Dare should know that his predecessor has challenged him with his records and achievements obtained during his tenure as the man in charge of sports.