Anyone wondering why the authorities in Abuja find it difficult to give Nigeria the required leadership should also consider the imperious inclinations of many of those in authority over smaller jurisdictions.
Consider the mess made of the national sports federation elections by those acting for or in the interest of the minister of sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung.
For a nation that won only one bronze medal at the last Olympic Games despite sending the largest delegation of 77 athletes in the nation’s history, the shame and scandal flowing from the elections should not have been. Remember that the most symbolic recollections of the Rio Olympic Games were not of success on the field of play, but the caricature of the country’s organisational capacities. The sordid story of the country not being able to ferry its stranded football team from the United States to Brazil. The US carrier, Delta Airlines got a good bounce on its PR when it intervened to help the stranded Nigerian footballers after their refugee status became a running tale on CNN.
Also, remember that the kits for the athletes arrived Rio just days to the end of the tournament.
For many Nigerians, the most captivating image of the games was that of Mr. Dalung not posing with victorious athletes, but of the minister posing with a tray of food at the cafeteria of the athletes.
Against the background of the sordid record of the present sporting authorities, it is thus astounding that an opportunity for Nigeria to repair the damage was simply elections.
It is bewildering that one of the country’s most respected athletic coaches, Brown Ebewele who was nominated as the representatives of the coaches was removed and replaced reportedly at the instruction of those acting in the name of the minister of sports. His replacement was someone that did not show initial interest in the preliminary election done among the coaches.
The country is today at a risk of being ejected from the International Basketball Federation, FIBA after those acting in the name of the minister held parallel elections outside the regulations as specified by the international basketball body.
Many forthright aspirants and nominees like Ebewele who were seen as people who could act independently were disqualified from the elections even after they had been nominated by their respective constituencies. In some cases, some nominees were asked to go and get their tax papers, and while they were about that, disqualification lists were rolled out almost entirely removing all independent minded persons.
Will it be a shock that with the attitude of Mr. Dalung’s minders that Nigeria would continue to reel in squalor when other less endowed countries are rocking in sporting glory?
The way the authorities at the Federal Ministry of Sports manipulated the association elections is reflective of what happens in virtually every other areas of our national life. Elections are manipulated even at the lowest levels.
The continuing protests against the outcome of the All Progressives Congress, APC local government election primaries in Lagos State depict the seeming disinclination of local leaders to uphold the tenets of democracy.
Despite the application of carrot and stick, 15 of the 16 chairmanship aspirants on the platform of the party last Thursday went on the streets to bemoan what they claimed as the imposition of a candidate on them. The story is the same in most parts of the state where primaries were held.
It is not just in Lagos, it is everywhere, even in the home. The inclination by Nigerians to suppress the rights of individuals for the purpose of allowing unfettered dominion is the basis of the problem of the country.