This week, I have decided to write an open letter like former President Olusegun Obasanjo who has become ‘notorious’ for writing ‘controversial letters’. As if his pen is poisonous, each time he writes, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of many. But my letter is definitely not going to leave a sour taste in anyone’s mouth.
So, as Nigerians are already writing open letters to the President elect, Senator Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) or ‘the BAT’ as called by some mischief makers, I also have chosen to send him a letter on one of the numerous things that those of us in the sports sector want him to do for us. These letters to BAT may appear hasty since his victory is being challenged by a few of his opponents but we all know that the Supreme Court of Nigeria has never annulled any Presidential election. I, therefore, doubt if it will start with the ‘city boy’. So, we can begin to take our demands to him.
Again, this is the right time for us to write because we don’t want a repeat of what happened in 2015. When he was elected and sworn into office as President, it took PMB almost six months to constitute his cabinet. His lackadaisical behaviour upset Nigerians who in turn tagged him ‘Baba go slow’. The speed with which they wanted him to move was lacking. He took a very long time but emerged with nothing spectacular. The same scenario almost played out when he was re-elected in 2019.
Permit me to digress a little. In Nigeria, Presidents and Governors take a long time to announce their cabinets because most of them are not prepared for leadership. Therefore, after their contentious victories, they take a long period of time to celebrate. It is only after their inauguration that they begin to think about what to do. They do this unchallenged because in this part of the world, service delivery is not a serious business.
Women group demands 35% in Tinubu’s govt
Real Reasons APC Suffered Defeat In Lagos, Kaduna, C/River, Others
However, some of us want Asiwaju to toe a different path. It is for this reason that we are writing in good time for him to read, decode and be different from his predecessors. He must hit the ground running because most Nigerians are in a dire state. They need urgent interventions in their socio-political and economic lives
Therefore, my dear Jagaban, be prepared to work round the clock to proffer solutions to the myriads of problems on the ground. It is interesting that your health status which was a topical issue during the campaigns has become a thing of the past. After you were declared the winner of the February 25 election, you have become a vibrant ‘young man’. You no longer stagger, blabber, falter, ‘bala-blue’ or exhibit any comical behavior. You are suddenly Presidential in speech and appearance. We are indeed seeing the power of power.
Even though sports didn’t feature prominently in your manifesto and Presidential campaign activities, the sector which harbours millions of Nigerian youths is expecting so much from you. It is indeed worrisome that throughout the campaigns, you and your co-contestants who traversed the length and breadth of the country professing love for the youths didn’t bother to state in concrete terms what you have in store for sports development.
However, the sector which has become a potent diplomatic tool for Nigeria is waiting with great expectations for more attention from you. Therefore, those who know what the country stands to gain from sports are praying fervently for you to be a sports friendly President.
It may interest you to know that the failure of past Presidents to appoint sound technocrats with the required expertise to formulate and implement developmental programmes was a major hindrance to sports advancement in Nigeria. There is this unfortunate belief that anyone can serve as a Minister of sports. Past Presidents were ignorant of the fact that sports administration is not for all comers.
Jagban, it was due to lack of knowledge of what sports management entails that PMB appointed Barrister Solomon Dalung as his Minister of sports. Just like his predecessors, he appointed a politician who knew next to nothing about sports to head the sector. Dalung’s reign was a complete disaster. He spent more time fighting real and imaginary enemies than developing the sector. His parting gift was no doubt the controversial scrapping of the National Sports Commission (NSC).
Well, following unrelenting public outcry, President Buhari who has a penchant for keeping underperforming Ministers reluctantly replaced Dalung with Sunday Akin Dare in 2019. Unlike the combative Dalung, Dare has made some strides in sports. Even as his appointment fell short of the expectations of most stakeholders, the energetic Dare threw himself into the fray emerging with some positive results to show for his dynamism and pragmatism. Arguably, he has fared better than most of his predecessors but there is still so much to be done to fully utilise Nigeria’s potential in sports.
Your Excellency, the above is to update you on the injustice meted to sports in the area of Ministerial appointments and to plead with you to ensure that a sound technocrat is appointed the next Minister of Sports. The sector must not have a Minister below the capacity demonstrated by Dare. Even as he has recorded some landmark achievements, stakeholders are yearning for more. Therefore, bringing in someone with lesser capacity will definitely be counter productive.
Sir, it is also important for me to remind you that one of our major problems is that we have formed the bad habit of putting square pegs in round holes. If care is not taken, very soon a medical doctor will be appointed as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation. This no doubt sounds very odd but most Nigerians don’t feel the same way whenever a politician without any affiliation or interest in sports is appointed to lead the sector. But this time, we believe you will appoint a thorough-bred and well equipped sports administrator in the mould of Malam Alhassan Yakmut to man the sector.
Sir, as I was about dropping my pen, someone reminded me that the current Minister of sports is one of your die-hard disciples. It is an open secret that Dare once served as your Chief of Staff and was appointed to his present position based your strong recommendation. Does it mean the right of first refusal is there for him to take and emerge Nigeria’s longest serving Minister of Sports?
Your Excellency, the ball is in your court. Do what is in the best interest of Nigerian sports.