"I must say this is as disappointing for my team and myself as it is for all Nigerians everywhere. But even as painful as this disappointment is, we must have the courage to see it for what it is. This, therefore, is a scientific diagnosis of our condition; a clear testimony to how far our sports have fallen behind," minister of sports and Chairman National Sports Commission ( NSC ), Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi stated this while reacting to Team Nigeria abysmal outing at the recently concluded London 2012 Olympic Games.
What the minister said above is what we already know, but he refused to tell Nigerians what led to the steady decline of the nation's sports sector in spite of the opportunities.
Sports officials and administrators, to whom responsibility has been entrusted to translate abundant raw talents available in the country into the highest levels of competitive skill, have always done harm to the development of the nation's sporting institutions rather than the otherwise. Nigeria's steady decline in sports development is however, a result of failure of the country's leadership to implement policies in all aspects of human development and sports cannot be an exception.
Therefore, Team Nigeria's disgraceful outing in London glaringly justify the saying that you reap only what you sow. There is no how Bolaji and his co-sports officials could have expected Nigerians to reap Olympics medal harvest when they haven't invested.
Inter-school and inter-house sports competitions which gave birth to Nigeria's glorious era in sports are no longer in existence. Most primary and secondary schools operating in the country today no longer have sports in their curriculum, not to talk of having one or two sports facilities.
Those in school are much younger and have comparative advantage to excel in sports than those picked from the streets for competition purpose. The desperation by the sports officials to win has given way to anything to happen. And the effect is what we are having now.
In the past, National Sports Festival was best organised and was a recruitment ground for national teams and sports federations. Then you can easily mistake National Sports Festival for All-Africa Games holding in Nigeria because of the decisive and competitive nature of the games.
Most states then even went as far to USA, Germany and Spain on training tours just to prepare their athletes for the biannual showpiece. Then the festival was run with serious policies in a way that athletes from the event become national and world runners shortly thereafter.
The reverse is the case now, the host state play a deep role in how policies are formulated and has a huge advantage in the name of encouraging them to host the championship since those that are saddled with the responsibility of managing our sports cannot source for money independently to organise the games.
It is for that basis that we always have 'he who pays the piper dictates the tune' in National Sports Festival. States now spend the money they are meant to use to develop athletes to 'buy' the first position. Huge budgets are made just to move athletes around to win the event to the detriment of the sport. Even though policies are developed to checkmate such states, they always find loopholes to manipulate the entire process.
If not until we take cues from the Chinese and American example, the sporting prowess, talents and passion for which the black race is known for may slowly ebb out of the country and there will never be an end to our lamentation of failure.