On Monday President Goodluck Jonathan surprised many of us when he deviated from the 'original national honours list' (which did not have the names of the Paralympians) by conferring on the six of them that won gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, national honours in the form of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON).
Before then on Saturday he had hosted them to a sumptuous dinner at Aso Rock where he also showed his government's large heart towards deserving athletes when he gave gold medal winners N5million, silver medal winners got N3million while those with bronze medals smiled home with N2 million. Those who failed to make a podium finish were still encouraged for their efforts with a N500, 000 token.
Also enjoying the President's benevolence were the Super Falconets, who finished fourth at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Japan, for which they received N1million each.
Their coaches were also not left out of the 'naira handshake' getting N1.2 million each for their work in turning their wards into the fourth best female team in the world.
While the President's gesture is undoubtedly very commendable, I would like play the Oliver Twist and say we (sports) need a lot more than a 'golden handshake' and flowery words if we are to realise the President's own lofty target of winning six gold medals at Rio 2016.
Of course this is quite possible to achieve if we are going to once again bank on our Paralympians, who despite the huge odds they faced (even more than the able bodied athletes) put their London 2012 Team Nigeria colleagues to shame, by meeting the President's target by winning 13 medals (six gold, five silver and two bronze).
What we need is a concerted effort of government (oiled by the all-important finance, which if lacking will negate even the best of intentions and efforts) to first identify which disciplines we intend to compete in in Brazil before striving to get the athletes we believe will serve us well and then 'spoiling' them with the best of preparations - in terms of coaching, exposure, dietary needs and so on.
I strongly feel we should do away with the notion that we should take part in some disciplines just for 'exposure'; after all how many medals have we ever won despite repeatedly 'exposing' our table tennis players to the Olympic Games?
We need to decide now if its only one event we will be good in and begin to scout for the right athlete or athletes for the discipline. After all it is not the number but the quality of athlete(s) that will determine if a nation gets on the medals' table or not.
We should also do away with 'quota' system in selecting our Team Nigeria - if all of the best athletes are from one village then so be it; because at the end of the day, it is Nigeria and not the athletes' village that will be honoured!
Although boosting grassroots sports is also very welcomed, but the truth is that it is highly unlikely that we would be able to nurture any athlete discovered at this level to world class standard before Rio 2016. Such athletes would have matured by the time of the 2020 Games.
Last month a highly placed sports official told me not to be too cynical of this government insisting that President Jonathan would come good this time around. I must confess that so far he has been making the right moves and saying the words; one only hopes he also backs all these up with the right actions.