Let’s all rise and toast to our Dream Team for clinching the bronze, and perhaps the only medal for Nigeria at the Rio Olympics that is about to end.The lads have done exceptionally well in spite of losing the semi-final match to the more experienced and better organised German team. They did the country proud and deserve all the accolades for going that far in spite of the irresponsible officialdom that has always messed up Nigeria.
The country did nothing to prepare these boys for the tournament. Their preparations was self-effort and when they were to be thrown out of their hotel in America for lack of funds, our misfit Sports Minister came out to say he was not aware of what the boys were doing in “United States of Nigeria”.
Mr. Solomon Dalung, who was in “Gongola” State a few months back, said of the boys: “I am just hearing the news of their suffering and threat to throw them out of their hotel in U.S, for the first time.
“I am hearing the story of our U-23 team camping in the U.S for the first time now; we don’t know who took them there and what their mission there is.
“It’s like when somebody goes to market and have problem, then, he will hold the ministry responsible.
“How does it become our problem if the team travelled without our knowledge or did they say they informed the ministry?
“So, before you ask us to account for something, you should be sure that we are aware of the situation in the first place,’’ Dalung added.
He said that the ministry could not take responsibility for anything that was not done under the protection of the Nigerian laws, noting that sports federations had been warned.
The minister said a similar incident occurred in Benin Republic recently when he was told that Team Nigeria athletes were ejected from their hotel rooms.
“I was in London when I was told that they were ejecting and throwing out Team Nigeria athletes in Benin Republic.
“It was painted as if we sent them there, but I investigated and discovered that there was no correct documentation of their traveling,” Dalung said.
He even went overboard by saying he was making the clarification because of the proclivity of human trafficking agents in our clime.
The boys who almost missed their opening match however showed what the conquering Nigerian spirit can achieve if only we have an enabling environment and right leadership to harness our potentials. They went on winning match-after-match until they lifted the bronze.
At a point, one of the players, Mikel Obi had to use his personal funds to pay their hotel bills in Brazil. May be someone else had to buy Jerseys as the kits ordered by government did not get to Brazil until 3 days to the end of the games.
It was when the team showed that official irresponsibly notwithstanding, they were ready to beat the world that Dalung showed up to tender apology to the team:
“I apologise because I am the head and as such I must take responsibility for anything that happen under my watch.
“I am happy you all have put the unfortunate incident behind you and have shown that you are true heroes by making the country proud with your qualification for the quarterfinals.
“This qualification is unique as you guys are the first team to do so in the football event. I want to assure you that we appreciate your efforts, and I want to say that it’s when a man faces challenges that his true ability is tested.
“I am sure we all have learnt our lessons and will take the lessons to heart going forward,” he said, as if he knows any route forward.
As if what the Minister did to the boys was not bad enough, an online new portal, Premium Times had reported the “hijack” of $390,000 promised the team by a Japanese businessman. That came from Katsuya Takasu, a plastic surgeon and football enthusiast, to boost the morale of the Nigerian players who were bogged down by financial inadequacies.
Mr. Takasu informed the Nigerian government through its embassy in Tokyo that he intended to make the donation, adding that he would fly to Brazil to personally hand in the funds to the players and also watch Nigerian team’s duel with Honduras played last Saturday.
The greedy bunch at the Football Federation are said to be angling to corner the gift instead of burying their heads in shame given the total failure of the Nigerian officials towards the success of the boys.
This country is a shame in the mouth!