By Daniyan Abu.
In the last two decades, sports stakeholders in Nigeria have lived with the frustration of having some of the worst ministers any sector can ever dream of.
They have come and gone, leaving behind worst memories that lingers on in the heads of stakeholders.
Under president Goodluck Jonathan, a certain Tamuno Danagogo from Rivers state was appointed sports minister. From his very first day in office to the last day, it was commotion, confusion, distractions and frustrations.
He destroyed the structures, brought so much commotion and confusion into the various sporting Federations and left football administration in Nigeria in complete comatose. At some point, president Jonathan himself had to bail him out as it became obvious he had lost control.
When former Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi was sacked by the Amaju Pinnick led board, it took the intervention of president Jonathan to get Keshi reinstalled as Danagogo became too livid to confront the men living in a glass house.
Before then, he had orchestrated one of the biggest coups in Nigeria football history by forcing his candidate Ambassador Chris Giwa on the congress after a hurriedly organised NFF election held on August 26, 2014 at the Chida hotel in Abuja. These and more, gave many the impression that Danagogo left as he came. His legacies were little if any.
Then came Solomon Dalung in 2015. He had the wisdom but his, was not like king Solomon.
He fought where he needed to negotiate and negotiated when he needed to fight.
He caused the long standing crisis in the basketball federation, left the AFN in disarray, took the NFF to court and was always in gloves ready for the next battle.
Many remembered King Solomon in the Bible as a great man who later misplaced his priorities and allowed himself to be used and dumped by Delilah. For Solomon Dalung, his tenure can be best remembered for all the crisis. He was always at the forefront, instigating the problems, fueling the bad blood and causing the commotion. His removal was a welcome relieve for Nigeria sports but till this day, he still ghosts around the ministry, looking for his lost files.
From outside, he is alleged to be the brain behind all the skeletal crisis cropping up in Nigeria sports but as they come, Dare has continued to ride on gallantly, surmounting all obstacles, knocking down oppositions, breaking all existing records and achieving great results.
At the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, where the devil again reared its ugly head with the suspension of Nigeria athletes just a few days to the start of the Athletics event, Dare acted swiftly and at the end, Nigeria returned with two medals, a Silver and a Bronze from the games.
That is a landmark achievement compared to his predecessors in the last 13years.
The Olympians and Paralympians returned to a triumphant reception after doing the country proud and some of the athlete relieved sweet memories of the games, while also saluting the sports Ministry for their support. In their words, “We have never had it this good”.
Nigeria’s U-20 track and field athletes made history at the biennial World Athletics U20 championships after finishing third on the overall medals table with an unprecedented haul of four gold and three bronze medals.
The best Nigeria had achieved on the medals table prior to the Kenya event, was her seventh-placed finish at the third edition of the championship in 1990 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, where they won two gold, two silver and two bronze medals.
The four gold medals won at the championships in Nairobi, Kenya is the highest Nigeria has won, two more than the country has ever won in any edition of the championships.
Nigeria’s 4x400m mixed relay team began the unprecedented haul with its historic, championships record-setting performance (3:19.70CR) on the opening day of the championships.
The Nigeria men and women basketball teams have continued to dominate on the continent. The women have won back to back African titles.
Just before the team participated and won the last title, the Sports Minister Sunday Dare in his magnanimity decided to extend the adopt a team initiative to the basketballers, by appealing to some Nigeria banks to support the basketballers with some financial incentives. That was how the (230,000 dollars) two hundred and thirty thousand dollars that is still held up in the central bank account became an issue.
A few days ago, some sponsored basketballers took to social media to allege that some persons in the ministry have conspired with the federation president to sit on their money but the ministry acted swiftly by contacting the central bank who in their response, release a document showing that the money is still in their account and not a dime has been touched. According to the ministry, the reason for the delay is because some members of the male basketball team have refused to forward their banking details to the federation so that this money can be uniformly disbursed.
Dare has again proved by this singular act that he is a man of top integrity, a super administrator and a sincere leader. Often time, they have tried to nail him to the cross of corruption but he has come out of it stronger and better.