Nigeria Judo Federation were absent at the just concluded African Championships held in Tunisia not because of the non existence of active Judokas but the paucity of funds as well as internal crisis rocking the board since the re-emergence of Prince Timothy Nsirim.
During the election held on June 13, 2017, the position of the South West representative on the board of the Judo Federation was conducted thrice but ended in stalemate before the electoral officer postponed the election and continued with the position of the President.
This caused confusion in the camp of those opposing the re-election of Timothy Nsirim and the permutations were once again shattered which led to Nsirim been unopposed.
The President during his inaugural speech called on aggrieved members and Judokas in Nigeria to sheath their sword and focus on the growth of the sport in Nigeria.
On behalf of the 31 Sporting Federations, Nsirim pleaded with the Federal Government to provide take off grants for the Federations.
He also advised the sports minister, Barrister Solomon Dalung to convince the Federal Government on the need to raise funds for the federations.
Few months after the inauguration of board members of sporting federations by the Sports Minister, the Judo Federation organized a Championship in Benin sponsored by a board member, Loveth Honeywell last December which steered up controversies as Judokas and coaches complained about accommodation, prize monies amongst others while others commended those behind the initiative.
A Judoka Echi Serah Umar said the federation need progress not deception, claiming that they transported and fed themselves.
She said athletes performed their duties while the federation failed to perform theirs.
Thompson Kayode claimed that some referees paid their way to the Loveth Howell Judo Championships.
He said, “Some referees also transported themselves to and fro Benin, fed themselves and paid for Hotel accommodation from their pocket. They worked tirelessly from Dawn to dusk and only to get paid 4,000 naira and 5,000 naira respectively for 3 days of the sponsored Loveth Howell Judo Championship’s, it’s very ridiculous. Do we call that progress? The referees performed well, while the other side failed.”
Before the intervention of the Nigeria Army last year when they sponsored Winnie Gofit to the African Championships and won gold medals, (also attended the 2017 World Senior Championship in Hungary) the last time the Judo Federation attended an African Championships was in 2013 at Mauritius where Nigeria won three medals.
The NJF only waits for the All Africa Games which is held every four years. Nigeria won two bronze medals coming from Fatima Bashir and Franca Audu in the women’s category. Since then, so many athletes have remained redundant; they either train to keep fit or for leisure.
According to research by aclsports.com, some Judokas have gone on exile to sports like wrestling, Taekwondo, Wushu Kung Fu, Karate and Mixed Martial Art to keep themselves fit.
At the last Governor Nyesom Wike National Wrestling Championships held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State; over 10 Judokas participated in the event and even winning medals for their respective states. This have prompted coaches and stakeholders to call for a state of emergency in the elite sport.
Suleman Musa, the head coach of Kogi state Judo Association has been a lone ranger in the wilderness calling for either total overhauling of the system or repentance by the current board.
Three months into the second term of Nsirim, Musa called on the board to select a credible Technical Director and it led to the emergence of Sensei Ekuta Ewa; a respected coach cum referee.
The Nigeria Judo Federation after three years, took delivery of new equipment donated by the International Judo Federation to aid the development of the sport in Nigeria which was lying waste at the Port in Lagos.
According to the a press release signed by the media and communications director, Phemmy Adetula, the equipment comprising 162 mats and cartons of Jodogis for all cadres was facilitated by Prince Nsirim who restated plans to revive judo with support of all the stakeholders. But some stakeholders have frowned at the move to take the equipments to Port Harcourt instead of the secretariat in Abuja for proper documentation. Their fears and worries is that some of the donated items may develop wings and fly away.
In an exclusive interview with the President International Judo Federation (IJF), Marius Vizer revealed that Nigeria benefits from the support.
Information reaching aclsports.com revealed that one Mr Kingsley have sent the International Judo Federation (IJF) programme of activities for the year 2018 to board members of NJF.
The questions begging for answers are;
Why did the Nigeria Judo Federation not prepare for the African championships? What is the fate of elite Judokas who have trained all their lives but not given the opportunity to travel for international tournaments? What happens if Nigeria does not qualify for Tokyo Olympics?
We hope the above questions will be answered by the Nigeria Judo Federation led by Prince Timothy Nsirim in the coming days.