London — The Main Press Centre here at the London 2012 Olympics can accommodate more than two thousand journalists. But there are also media centres in all the venues. Each sport has a venue with a media centre, press conference hall and all the facilities you find in a modern stadium.
At the main Press Centre and some of these centres countries display all sorts of literature to promote their athletes and countries. Journalists pick the literature up and find some useful.
There are also souvenirs that National Olympic Committees of different countries give out at the Olympics which are no longer only sports competitions but also great stage for the promotion of cultures, tourism and other potentials of participating countries.
Nigeria does not give a hoot about these things. There are no pamphlets or any literature to promote Nigeria here. And there are also no souvenirs from the Nigeria Olympic Committee that Nigerian athletes can exchange with other athletes or friends. So it is with Nigerian journalists too.
They have no souvenirs like pins that they can give out to other journalists or friends although the NOC gave each Nigerian journalist a bag containing Nigerian track suit. I got one but we are talking about souvenirs to promote our country. Flags are so few you wonder who made them. Some Nigerians came with theirs.
There are two volunteers at the Olympic Stadium that I am now avoiding because I cannot give them ordinary Nigerian pins.
Daily, they remind me that they are still waiting for Nigerian pins. I now try to stay at another side of the media tribune to avoid the shame of tendering excuses.
Souvenirs were freely given to Nigerian contingents in the days of late Raheem Adejumo as President of NOC. Too bad.
Excellent performance of athletes promotes the image of countries. But Nigeria is not doing well here on the courts and also failing in the area of Public relations. The unfortunate thing is that these things are always in their budget.
For the ongoing games, I gathered that the contractor who got the job to supply these souvenirs disappointed because they owed him. The media attache to the NOC here insists that Nigeria Olympic Committee has these souvenirs. But nobody has seen them and we are still searching for them.
We are still searching for anything Nigerian to promote our country. It is the practice of the NOC to provide their delegation with these souvenirs. Nigeria is not here.
"It is only African countries that lack these souvenirs. It is not only Nigeria. But it is a shame that I collect pins from other journalists here but nobody from Africa, my own continent, has given me a pin in spite of my daily requests," one Volunteer who is of Guinea Bisau parentage told me and Ade Ojeikere of The Nation. She has lived in London since the age of eight.
Meeting Tony Ubani at last Diary Olympic Stadium:August 2
After nine days stay covering the games here I eventually met my dear colleague, Tony Ubani.
We work for the same newspaper but it was only last Friday when track and field started that we met for the first time since arriving here. If Tony was covering one sport I needed to be somewhere else as we needed to cover as many sports as possible. But track and field, the premier sport of the Olympic Games brought us to one venue. Interesting. And as media attache to the Nigerian team Tony has been helpful to the Nigerian media.
He has been absolutely professional and Nigerian journalists here and at home can attest to his competence. But what has Vanguard benefited from the service Tony is rendering to NOC? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Rather, Vanguard, as a newspaper has suffered. However, it is probably not because Tony is the media attache. It is because of the leadership of NOC that has not looked into their books to appreciate Vanguard's position in the coverage of Olympic games.
For the past four Olympic Games, Vanguard always received two media accreditation forms - one for press reporter and another for press photographer. And when Tony, like his predecessors, allocated two media forms for the Olympic games to Vanguard, the leadership of NOC withdrew one.
Reports had it that Tony was accused of allotting three forms to Vanguard. Tony never did. He gave the usual two - one to me and the other to Sylva Eleanya, our photographer who has covered the past games with me. As NOC media attache Tony is entitled to team Nigeria official accreditation and he did not use one of the ten forms allocated to Nigeria by IOC. Silver's accreditation was withdrawn and that's why he is not here.
So, when Vanguard was expected to benefit more from the service of their staff as media attache to NOC, the paper has suffered from the leadership of NOC. Tony has taken this calmly and doing his job here, sending news stories and flicks to inform and entertain our readers. That's what counts and not this NOC that cannot even boast of souvenirs to promote Nigeria and her athletes.