By Sylvanus Ofekun
Trust Uncle JOE, the Distinguished Senator, whose new task is the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Sports Development, knows the Writer’s intentions is never to insult, or place a spell on his assignment, especially on a day the Writer is celebrating his birthday. I know this for sure, that as a teacher, preacher and a farmer who is polished and well read, understands that it is only a prayer of one of Nigeria’s foremost Educationists and Social Critic, Dr. Tai Solarin used to usher Nigerians into a new year in 1964.
Success in life is conditioned by the amount of risk we are ready to take. It is generally believed that if your path in life is smooth, you will rush into the road and move too fast in life. And as you go ahead, you will not learn the required lessons of life, on daily basis as it ought to be. It will look as if everything comes instantly and on demand. By the time you arrive at your destination, you may not have what it takes to remain there. Maintaining success, which is more important in life, is more difficult than attaining it.
Dear Uncle JOE, I was present when you arrived at your new office on Monday, August 21, 2023, and immediately these words kept ringing in my head “I am not cursing you; I am wishing you what I wish myself every year. I therefore repeat, may you have a challenging time this year, may there be plenty of troubles for you …”
I was taken aback, when you began to speak about your intentions for the Ministry and by extension, the sector; as I quickly recount past occupants’ Inaugural Meetings with Management and Staff of the Ministry, they came with their imperfect perfections. While some talked tough, others were prophetic about their visions and missions to transform sports. Their memorabilia at the end, ‘motion without movement.’
A long ladder is needed, if you must bridge the gap between the sacred and the sinful. Do not be in a hurry, otherwise you might step into unimaginable horrors. Soon, the praise singers will come (if they are not already around). We have heard melodious notes these praise singers sing (you are the best Sports Minister ever), even though, your stay in office is less than a week. These people have the ability to turn your grace to disgrace, that is, if you ever get down on the dance floor to do a rock and roll with them.
Uncle JOE, the Nigerian Sports Industry is a cartel, ruled by very few men. These men are powerful and they became more powerful under the era of President Muhammadu Buhari. A cartel that once defeated a sitting President and a Sports Minister with the aid of some few people in the Villa. A system that disregards Supreme Court Rulings must be really powerful indeed. The occupant of your office between 2015-2019 once said, “As a barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, who took oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I will prefer to stand with the rule of law than the opinion of men.” End quote. This was when a Supreme Court ruling was disregarded with a former Number 2 Citizen, who being a Professor of Law was manipulated by the cartel in sports. It did not stop there. The Supreme Court Ruling in the case between Total Promotions versus Nigeria Football League Limited, League Management Company Limited, and First Bank of Nigeria PLC is yet to be implemented. So brace up!
Uncle JOE, leadership failure in the National Sports Federations has become a cancer. Most of these Federations are on life support, and all these leaders do little or nothing to develop or improve the sport they superintend over. On the contrary, they sit back and totally depend on government allocations. Many of persons who administer and coordinate the activities of these Federations’ are grossly incompetent and have absolutely nothing to offer sports, even at the basic levels of sports administration. These Federations need a bold and decisive Minister to do the needful.
Finally, get your mobile bed ready, you will be definitely need it at the Federal Ministry of Finance because of delays in releasing monies approved for international competitions, days after the commencement. Trust, the reactions from Nigerians. The countdown has started, 3, 2, 1 …. Uncle JOE, once again, “May your road be rough.