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No govt delegation to Olympics
Government delegations, Federal, State or Local, have made a habit of attending international sports championships at the expense of the tax payers, and their nuisance value often times portrayed Nigeria in bad light.
The military started it in the 1980s and usually picked nine government officials. For example, at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, one was not sure who was the leader of the government delegation between Rear Admiral M.A.B.Elegbede and Major General Paul Omu.
Nigeria had one of the largest contingents to Seoul 88, 224 out of which 79 were sportsmen and sports women. All the states of the federation sent delegates comprising the state Commissioners of sports, Chairmen state sports council, and the Directors of sports.
At the local government level, some influential Chairmen succeeded in gaining approval from the state government and travelled to the South Korean capital, Seoul. At the end of the Games, Nigeria did not win a single gold, silver or bronze but ended with a monumental post Games departure debacle.
Nigerians had bought anything buyable in Seoul, including a vehicle half engine and the humongous luggage could not be accommodated in the aircraft. The Nigerians were kept at the Seoul airport for two days while frenetic arrangements were made to get them back home.
At the Murtala Mohammed International airport, Lagos, press photographers had laid in wait to capture states Commissioners of sports and other VIPs hugging hefty luggage. The concept of government delegation began in 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. I remember, the then sports minister, Group Captain Emeka Omeruah, during the General Buhari regime, led the delegation and at that time, the International Olympic Committee, (IOC) did not recognize government delegation. Omeruah came to the Games Village, but was refused
entry as he was not accredited.
Years later the IOC relaxed their conditions and accorded ministers some ceremonial recognition, while it deals only with the National Olympic Committee (NOC). At every Olympiad the flag raising ceremony by each country is significant, and the presence of the country’s highest personality, preferably the sports minister is desirable. Now that the Federal Government has banned government delegation to the London Olympic Games, no high ranking Nigerian will perform that function. It is a pity that we bastardise many noble things in Nigeria, otherwise the four yearly Olympic Games provide a good platform for international public relations of our country by a diligent sports minister.
By interacting with fellow ministers and high ranking IOC officials, much goodwill can be gained for Nigeria. Our sports minister, Mallam Balaji Abdulani says Governors who can finance the trip may go to London 2012, what about members of the National Assembly who usually troop to such events in droves?
What about the Commissioners of sports of the various states, the Chairmen of the sports councils, and Directors of sports, all totaling 108. Add the FCT. Abuja you get 111. Is the figure too much? If 25,000 Dutch fans travelled to cheer their national team at the recent Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, Nigerians should be encouraged to do the same. The difference is, while the Dutch fans saved and paid their way to Poland and Ukraine, the Nigerians expect the money to come from the tax payers.
By the time the London 2012 Games are over, it will be interesting to find out how many Nigerians bought tickets from the NOC and how many actually travelled to London to cheer our sportsmen and women. Or are all of us looking forward to a free lunch?Share