Former Nigeria handball international, Olajide Fashikun has rated Team Nigeria’s performance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games lower than they did four years ago.
Team Nigeria finished with 24 medals, 9 gold, 9 silver and 6 bronze medals, 12 less than the medal won in Glasgow. In 2014, Nigeria’s medal haul was 36; 11 gold, 11 silver and 13 bronze.
Fashikun told Aclsports poor funding and the scrapping of the National Sports Commission was the bane of Nigeria’s poor outing in Gold Coast.
“I think the best way is to do a quick comparison looking at our performance at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. It is practically obvious we didn’t do well in Gold Coast and you also cannot put the whole blame on the current administration.”
“We used to be under the National Sports Commission but now we are under the sports ministry and over the years it has shown clearly that sports doesn’t do well in a ministry structure we have always done better under the sports commission structure. In the last Games, we were under the National Sports Commission under leadership of Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye and we did well. What we have now is the ministry structure and the quality of human resources is small, the quality to manage the industry is lower under the ministry. The way things are, if we go to the next Commonwealth Games with this same structure, we are likely going to come out worse than we did in Gold Coast,” Fashikun stated.
The former athlete turn reporter said there is a need to revive the Sports Commission in which the bill has been submitted to the National Assembly.
“There is a National Sports Commission bill before the National Assembly which they need to appeal to them to fast track the passage of the bill. In the previous years when we had the Sports Commission headed by Pa Isaac Ajeoye there was a law that was supposed to be amended but I am not sure the National Assembly allows the law of 1979 constitution to be upgraded under the existing laws in the 1999 constitution otherwise what they needed to do was to just amend the 1979 constitution under which that former law exists. The bill of the national sports commission has gone through the second reading just waiting to go through a public reading, third reading then it will be open for use.”
Fashikun also mentioned funding as a bigger reason why we have not done well in sports for over a decade.
“One critical issue is the issue of funding. We keep telling our government that no government anywhere in the world can fund sports because they don’t have the kind of money to fund sports. In 1994 when we qualified for the World Cup, government set up a committee to help raise funds for the World Cup. Monies were raised from states, corporate organisations, etc, and the money was used for the World Cup and even the Nations Cup which we won in Tunisia, and of course we had a good outing at the World Cup.
The committee came together concluded the task given to them and put forward the monies they had left but Oladipo Diya said no, we will extend the time of your committee, go ahead and fund the preparation for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. The 1994 Commonwealth Games was used as a bridge for it and a lot of money was pumped into it and that’s why we did very well. But have we continued what works for us? No. The only time we had something close to that was in the All Africa Games in Johannesburg Nkechi Obi was in charge.
They set up a committee named Team Nigeria which was used in funding 1999 and the 2003 edition in Nigeria. As long as we continue to expect government to put money into sports, it will not work.
The Director General of the National Sports Development Funds Incorporated (NSDFI) said the initiative was a rehabilitation of the committee set up in 1994.
“What we had in 1994 is what has now developed to NSDFI and that fund has been rehabilitated which is to have 6 National developmental centre in Nigeria. The one in Akure will be launched on April 30. We have what we call Olympic grant in which we want to use 90 days from May 1 to July to raise N900 million and we want 4.5 million Nigerians to give us 200 naira or a multiple of 200. 90 athletes from 5 sports will get N10 million this year to start preparation for Tokyo 2020 even though we are behind schedule. N5 million will be for them to compete in international Championships so they continually pick in terms of performance towards the Olympics. If they meet up the minimum set targets agreed between us as well as the federation, another N10 million will be given to them to prepare them for the Olympics and we expect 1/3 of the 90 athletes to qualify for the Olympics and 1/3 of the qualified athletes to get us at least a bronze medal. The athletes have been informed if they win a bronze they get N5million, silver N7 million and gold N10 million. It will be a continuous process for the younger athletes who can continue ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games. We will give them N15million naira immediately after the 2020 Games to start their preparation four years ahead. We don’t expect anything less than the ultimate medal structure at the Olympics.”
Fashikun added that this new initiative will stop Nigerian athletes from absconding after Games or changing nationality.
“It’s an economic problem. A situation you earn good money in your country there won’t be any need for athletes absconding or leaving. When I was playing at Zamalek, I had a good deal from an Italian club but when I compared what I take home at the end of the day, it is bigger than the deal abroad so I stayed back. You hardly find an Egyptian leaving their country because you will ask yourself what I am leaving for is it as good as ours? Their sports industry is well oganised which we can also do same. Our sports industry is bigger than the oil industry only if we can organise ourselves.”