IF the watching of foreign football matches can be made into an Olympics event, I am sure Nigeria would have got some medals at the last Olympics. Unfortunately for us, medals were given to nations that developed their people rather than those who specialise on the consumption of the products of other thinking people. There are still more Olympics to come in the future. There are several ways to continue scoring zero at these games. I shall explore some of them here:
First, business as usual: While other nations spend up to 10 years catching their athletes at a very young age and developing them, a nation that wants to score zero will wait till there are only a few months left; go after those of their countrymen and women who have long abandoned their fatherland to sojourn in other lands, but were not sufficiently good to meet the team list in those countries; present these rejects as your Olympic team.
Secondly, ignore the development of primary and secondary school sports facilities: In the 1960s, when foreign missionaries ran our schools, a primary school compound had a school field lined with race tracks; a weather station, nature study corners in class rooms; stocked school libraries. Today, governors boast of achievements once they have put roofs on four walls of classrooms on bare earth and everyone is expected to clap! There used to be competitive meetings among secondary schools from the AAA meets to Ionian Cup in the West and the Principals Cup in Lagos. To get zero in the next Olympics, refuse to develop these facilities.
Thirdly, ignore proven experts in the respective areas and appoint party apparatchiks, political cronies, children, wives and other family members of governors and presidents (incumbent or former), etc into serious positions. Pay more attention to the welfare of officials while neglecting that of the actual sportsmen and women who are the ones who can win medals.
Fourth, depend on good luck to run governments when other people are using scientific methods and availing themselves of all that experience and empirical evidence can give. Praying fervently for miracles after you have left undone what things you ought to have done.
Fifth, refuse to adjust the educational curricula so that specific sporting activities and development programmes can earn credits in secondary and tertiary institutions.
Sixth, allow old stadia such as National Stadium in Lagos to rot while looking for money for new mega projects.
There are more things to do (or to leave undone) to arrive at the same end. It is time again for Nigeria to choose.
This letter, written three years ago, sadly, remains relevant even today.
- Professor Omotayo Fakinlede, Lagos.