21 August 2016
Nigeria’s debut at the world Olympic Games was at the 1952 Helsinki games, but she had to wait till 1964 at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan to win its first medal.
Nigeria’s first medal came through Najeem Maiyegun who won bronze in the men’s lightweight boxing category.
Nigeria’s most successful outing at the Olympics still remains Atlanta 1996, where the country garnered a total of six medals – 2 gold medals, 1 silver and 3 bronze.
Expectation of a better performance in subsequent Games grew following the performance in Atlanta but ever since this feat, Nigeria has sadly been on a decline.
The reason for the decline has ranged from lack of funds to shoddy and late preparations.
After the London 2012 Olympics where Nigeria was one of the nations without a single medal, the then Minister of Sports, Mr. Bolaji Abdulahi, expressed his dissatisfaction and vowed to start preparations for Rio 2016 immediately.
Shortly after making this mouth-watering commitment, Tammy Dagogo replaced him as minister of sports and as it were did not seem to buy into his predecessor’s plan.
As proven by the transition between Abdulahi and Dagogo, inconsistency in administration and politicising national matters would always draw us back as a nation.
Nigeria should have a working plan spanning at least 10 years, for every sector, not only sports, and this plan should be achievable irrespective of the party or person in power. This is how we can progress as a nation.
A few days to the Rio Games, some of the athletes granted a video interview where they expressed their worries at the shoddy preparations and logistics by the Ministry of Sports chaired by the minister, Solomon Dalung.
One of the athletes recalled that they were stranded in Dubai for three days and did not eat proper meals.
The worse was still to come as the Dream Team VI (men’s U-23 football team) were later stranded in Atlanta and managed to get to Rio five hours before their first match which they still managed to win.
The minister has since received backlash from many Nigerians for the role he played in this shamble and the comments he made concerning the Dream Team’s camping in Atlanta.
Nigerians were, however, surprised to see the minister celebrating with the same team he had neglected and treated with little or no respect after they qualified for the semi-finals against all odds defeating Denmark in the quarterfinal.
As if the sports ministry under Dalung had not yet treated Nigeria to enough international shame, news broke on Thursday that Nigeria’s training kit arrived in Brazil barely three days to the end of the Olympics.
At the opening ceremony, the athletes had to wear tracksuits because the intended outfit did not arrive on time and this begs the question of whether we are moving forward or backwards as a nation.
This is a wakeup call for us as Nigerians; we expect the presidency to take this up and as a matter of urgency, declare a state of emergency in our sports ministry.
Anyone found culpable in this show of shame should be sanctioned and plans should be set in place for the next Olympics immediately, this is the only way Nigeria can do well in up-coming events.
Author: Dotun Obatuyi
My name is Dotun Obatuyi (Dotunoba), I hail from Osun state, a public health scientist (monitoring and evaluation specialist), my keen interests are researching, critiquing and writing feature articles on health, science and technology as well as issues around the globe.