Nigeria is a great sporting nation but the country is yet to imbibe the ideals from other top countries to make her athletes compete and rub shoulders with the best athletes in the world.
After every competition, the administrators will always come out to tell Nigerians that the preparations for the next event will start soon. By now, people are used to such pronouncements.
The 21st Commonwealth Games ended at the weekend in Gold Coast, Australia, with many lessons to be learnt by Nigerian administrators and athletes.
We appreciate the commitment and dexterity of the athletes who toiled to make podium appearances for Nigeria. We make bold to say the preparation for the just-concluded competition was not adequate. The training tour promised by the ministry of sports never materialized and many of those athletes camped in Nigeria did not eventually make it to Australia. The athletes based abroad joined their respective colleagues in Australia rather than Nigeria.
The idea of presenting athletes to the Nigeria Olympic Committee is fast becoming a thing of the past as the sports ministry took charge of the entire operations of Team Nigeria. The wrestling team had a great preparation due to the African Wrestling Championship which took place in Port Harcourt in February. Rivers State Government did well by taking care of the athletes all through. Nigeria emerged overall first at the competition and the form was taken to the competition as Blessing Oborodudu, Aminat Adeniyi and Odunayo Adekuoroye clinched gold. It is instructive to stress that the country did not prepare the wrestlers for the games.
The climax of the entire event was the 100m finals as Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago won at a time of 11.14 secs. Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare has ran better time this term but did not feature in the flat events. Team Nigeria’s Jennifer Madu, Isoken Igbinosun and Joy Udo-Gabriel competed and crashed out in semis with 11.59 sec, 11.85 secs and 11.53 secs respectively.
The Men’s 100m saw two South Africans – Akanni Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies – clinch a stunning gold and silver finish while favourite Jamaican, Yohan Blake, settled for bronze ahead of Nigeria’s Seye Ogunlewe who was 4th while Enoch Adegoke came 7th also in the final. Egwero Ogho-Oghene crashed out in the semis.
Simbine who was 5th at the 2016 Olympics won in 10.03 secs while his compatriot Bruintjies returned 10.17 secs. It is strange that Jamaicans are not the ones denying Nigeria medals in sprints but South Africans. The country cannot currently boast of quality sprinters that can appear in the finals of a global event except Okagbare. There is no conscious effort to discover and groom young athletes to maintain the country’s pedigree in sprints.
In Africa, there are sprinters who are better than ours. We recall Nigerian sprinters taking part in the finals of 100m at the Olympics and world athletics championship but this is fast becoming a mirage. Marie-Josée Ta Lou and Murielle Ahouré (both of Cote d’Ivoire) are the fastest in Africa ahead of Okagbare. In the male cadre, the country’s men are nowhere as two South Africans – Simbine and Roscoe Engel – are the best on the continent.
We urge the Ministry of Sports to send coaches to the schools and the grassroots to fish out talents in sprints which is an area the country has been noted for in the past decades. It is important to regain the lost glory in this area and encroach in other areas to boost chances of excellence at major events.
The lessons here are that of deliberate planning to bring out young talents who can stand the test of time for the country. The time to start preparation for the next edition is now rather than starting three months to the event.
Competitions like Commonwealth Games, All Africa Games and the Olympic Games deserve good preparation, including a training tour which will make the athletes to concentrate and perfect their readiness for the event.
In the past, it is certain that Team Nigeria athletes will train in countries relevant to their sport disciplines. For example, combat sports go to Cuba, Table Tennis players do travel to China while track and field athletes head for the USA. This tradition must return to enable athletes head for competition in tip-top shape.
It was ridiculous that due to financial constraints, the ministry dictated the number of athletes that each of the sports federation presented at the Games.
Special Sports athletes have always been consistent and they again demonstrated this in Australia.
We hereby charge the authorities in sports to place better attention to Special Sports athletes. Competitions should be organized for them to keep their shape and get better. The first four gold medals won at the event were won by para-athletes and so they deserve better attention.
We commend the entire contingent of Nigeria to the games for their discipline as we urge the ministry of sports and the NOC to always prepare the athletes better for future games.
Enough of killing field in Zamfara
For a long while Zamfara State has been in the news for a wrong reason. The state has been notorious for killings. This is a state where human lives have no value to bandits. The killings in Zamfara have persisted for a long time.
With the Minister of Defence, Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd) from the state, one had expected that a solution would have been found by now. With the chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Abdulaziz Yari, superintending the affairs of the North-West state, one had thought Zamfara would be a worthy state for other states to emulate in terms of security. Unfortunately, this is not the case as the wanton destruction of lives has continued unabated.
The latest in the long line of mayhem took place at the weekend as gunmen killed 30 people in Kabaro and Danmani villages in Maru Local Government Area of the state.
The weekend killings forced many of the villagers to desert their homes for fear of further attacks which now characterized the mode of operations of the gunmen in Zamfara.
On April 12, gunmen invaded Kuru-Kuru and Jarkuka in Anka Local Government Area of Zamfara State, killing at least 26 people. On February 14, 2018, 41 villagers, traveling in a truck, were shot dead and set on fire near Birane Village in Zurmi Local Government Area (LGA).
On January 18, 2018, gunmen on motorcycles killed six people, wounded four and abducted two sons of a federal legislator at Gora village, Maradun LGA.
Before this, Zamfara has been embroiled in an orgy of violence, killings and bloodletting. For instance, on October 3, 2011, gunmen killed 23 people in a night attack on Lingyado Village in Maru LGA.
On January 26, 2012, armed men killed and burnt 15 traders returning to Birnin-Magaji from a market in Shamushalle at the Katsina border. Again, on May 12, of same year, eight persons, including four policemen, died in a shoot-out with armed robbers at Dansadau, Maru LGA.
On June 11, 2012, about 80 gunmen on motorcycles killed 26 people in Dan-Gulbi, Guru, Sabuwar Kasuwa and Biya villages of Maru LGA. On October 30, 2012, gunmen killed 20 people, including the village head of Kabaro in Dansadau, Maru LGA.
Again, on June 18, 2013, 48 people died when gunmen attacked Kizara Village in Tsafe LGA in a morning raid. Among the dead were the district head, the village Imam and the vigilante leader. Also, From July to September 2013, gunmen killed 160 people and abducted 10 married women in a three-month orgy of violence.
On April 6, 2014, gunmen also killed over 200 people in ‘Yar Galadima Village at a meeting of traditional rulers and vigilantes. In September 2014, bandits killed 33 people, raped women and rustled cows in different communities.
In July 2015, gunmen on motorcycles killed over 30 people, burnt houses and rustled cows and sheep at Kokeya and Chigama villages of Birnin-Magaji LGA. On February 6, 2016, armed men again killed 50 villagers, stole cattle and burnt down houses in a night attack on Kwanar Dutse village in Maru LGA.
On November 7, 2016, gunmen killed 40 gold miners at a mining camp near Gidan Ardo Village in Maru LGA. On November 18, 2016, gunmen rustled cattle and kidnapped 40 villagers in Maru LGA.
We have gone to this length to show the extent of these killings and for how long they have been on. In spite of this, however, not much has been done to stem the tide by government.
Following the killing in Birane Village in Zurmi LGA on February 14, 2018 Governor Yari said security agencies failed to tackle the problem of cross border bandits and terrorists tormenting communities in Zamfara. He accused the police of ignoring the government’s alert of the plot by armed bandits to invade communities in the state.
We are at a loss as to why the police will refuse to take action when they get intelligence that bandits and terrorists are plotting to cause mayhem. However, what needs to be stressed is the fact that the police must rise to the occasion and stop the wanton killings in Zamfara State.
During his visit to the state in March, President Muhammadu Buhari pledged to address security challenges in Zamfara. The President also stated that he had ordered massive redeployment of police officers to the state with a view to addressing security challenges in Zamfara.
This has not eased the killings in Zamfara. Hence, we call on Mr. President to ensure that the killings in Zamfara, and indeed all other troubled parts of the nation, are brought under control. No effort is too much in this regard.
One of the cardinal objectives of the government is to protect citizens. In Zamfara, both the state and federal governments have failed in this regard. The people are no longer secure with the reign of gunmen who terrorise the state at will. Lives are cut short at will. For how long will the people of Zamfara remain helpless when there is government in place? An end must come to the killing field in Zamfara State.
Nigeria’s decline on CAF’s coefficient table
Football at grassroots level, schools and clubs are the best ways of evaluating the development of the beautiful game. It is always unrealistic to use the performances of the senior national team to judge the growth of football.
Nigerian football, over the years, is on a slide because clubs representing the country in continental matches always fall short at crucial times. After the back-to-back feat achieved by Enyimba of Aba in 2003 and 2004, when they won the CAF Champions League, no Nigerian club has won continental laurel.
Besides, most times, Nigerian clubs crash out in early stages of the competition without playing in the league stage of either the Confederation Cup or the CAF Champions League. No doubt, the country’s league, in the past years, has not been producing true champions.
Officiating is a big issue, the turf is a source for concern and most of the teams are yet to meet the conditions of being a truly professional outfit. Professional football started in 1990, but till date, none of the teams in the elite class can boost of fulfilling all the conditions set for them.
It is so sad that some of the teams, if not most of them, are playing their home games on very bad pitches. Plateau United won the league last season on a bad pitch and we wonder whether the stadium was not inspected before the start of the season.
The independent match assessors of the League Management Company should be men of integrity with good jobs who will be able to report cases as they are to the LMC.
It was not a surprise that the Confederation of Africa Football rejected the stadium for continental games. This led to the team performing badly on the continent first in the CAF Champions League and later in the CAF Confederation Cup.
During the week, Plateau United took 2-1 win from the Agege S t a d ium to play USM Algiers, but they were bashed 4-0 in the second leg. Akwa United suffered a 2-0 defeat in Sudan against Al Hilal and in Uyo they conceded an early goal before scoring three and so they were edged out on away goal rule. MFM lost 1-0 at home to Djouliba of Mali and the 0-0 played away was not enough to move them into group stage of Confederation Cup.
Enyimba played 1-1 away in first leg against Bidvest FC of South Africa and survived with 0-0 return leg to move on. Only the People’s Elephant are still on the continent as early as the preliminary stages.
This is a very sad commentary and big minus to the league and the development of football in the country. The elite league is not producing quality teams to compete in the continent. It also means that the teams representing Nigeria are not well motivated to compete in Africa.
We make bold to say the coaches and players are generally not good enough. In the coefficient table in Africa, Nigeria has dropped out of the top 12 where the country has been in the past 18 years.
From 2019, Nigeria will only present one team for the CAF Champions League and one for the Confederation Cup. This is happening at a time some countries in Africa will now be presenting three to four teams in each of the competitions. Football in the country is at its lowest ebb if Nigerian clubs are struggling on the continent to be in the elite class.
The country is now in the joint 13th position with Ethiopia. Mozambique is the country that has replaced Nigeria on the Top 12 table of countries that will be producing two teams for both the Champions League and the Confederation Cup.
The Top 12 are Tunisia, Egypt, DR Congo, Morocco, Algeria, South Africa, Cameroon, Mozambique, Sudan, Zambia, Libya and Ivory Coast.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the LMC must work towards bringing back the country to the elite class in the CAF Coefficient table. If only 10 teams are good enough to run football well, they should be the ones in the elite league so that we can get the desired results in terms of development.
We charge the football authorities to make the domestic league attractive again. Get a title sponsor and make players all over Africa come to Nigeria. It was like that in the past.
Ghanaians, Togolese, Beninoise, Malians, Cameroonians all struggled to play in the Nigerian League. But now, it’s Nigerian players going to those countries, including South Africa. If the clubs are not winning, we believe they should perform well enough to compete for the titles in Africa every season.
The coefficient evaluation of teams by CAF has exposed Nigeria because the country has not been doing much in terms of development.
Restoring judiciary’s integrity
Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, Nigeria’s Chief Justice (CJN), is indeed walking the talk as he assured Nigerians barely 13 months ago when he took oath of office as the 17th CJN.
At his swearing-in as substantive CJN in March 2017, Justice Onnoghen assured Nigerians that his leadership of the third arm of government would restore the judiciary’s era of glory; a judiciary that indeed would live up to its sacred nomenclature of the hope of the common man.
Particularly, he said dented image of judiciary, which is synonymous to corruption, would be a thing of the past as a series of reforms that would reposition the judiciary topped his agenda for a new judiciary.
It is commendable that 13 months on, the CJN is already walking the talk following widespread reforms he had initiated in the judiciary.
The reforms, no doubt, had activated the Federal Government’s war against corruption, including his directive to all heads of courts in the country to compile and forward to the National Judicial Council (NJC) comprehensive lists of all corruption and financial crime cases being handled by their various courts.
This is even as the CJN equally ordered the heads of courts to designate at least one court in their various jurisdictions as special courts solely for the purpose of hearing and speedily determining corruption and financial crime cases, depending on the volume of such cases in their jurisdictions.
This is already working in Lagos State judiciary following inauguration of a special court for financial crimes in the state and some other states of the federation as directed by the CJN.
And to ensure the effectiveness of this new measure, Justice Onnoghen gave marching orders to all heads of courts to clamp down on both prosecution and the defence counsel who indulge in unethical practice of deploying delay tactics to stall criminal trials.
To this effect, the heads of courts will, henceforth, report cases of unnecessary delays to the NJC which in turn, would transmit them to the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC), in the case of SANs and the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) in the case of other legal practitioners.
In the event where such cases get to the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court, the CJN directed the relevant departments to fix special dates solely for hearing and determining such appeals.
To properly monitor and effectively enforce the new policy, Justice Onnoghen announced that the NJC will constitute an Anti-Corruption Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (ACTMC) to be saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that both trial and appellate courts handling corruption and financial crime cases key into and abide by the renewed efforts at ridding the country of the cankerworm of corruption.
The CJN said with pre-election appeals cases now out of the way, the Supreme Court would, henceforth, channel its energy towards clearing as many of the corruption and financial crime cases as possible.
Onnoghen said: “I encourage members of the public to cut off the supply side of corruption by stopping the offering of bribes to judicial officers.
“The full wrath of the law will be visited on all those caught in this nefarious activity that is capable of eroding integrity and confidence in the judiciary.
“Again, the pronouncements of every court ought to be firmly enforced and complied with, without exception, unless such order/pronouncement is varied by proper judicial means.
“It is, therefore, important to note that any attempt or apparent refusal by certain parties to comply with valid court judgements and pronouncements must be condemned.
“Disobedience of or non-compliance with judicial orders is a recipe for breakdown of law and order. Such developments are at variance with the principles and tenets of the rule of law in a democratic government.”
This is indeed commendable and something to cheer about if, within one year of his leadership of the judiciary, Justice Onnoghen had been able to walk the talk, especially for the first time the National Judicial Council (NJ) will be activated to keep judges on their toes.
Just recently, his Corruption and Financial Crimes Cases Trials Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO) inaugurated last year has swung into action with its visit to Lagos State where it met with no fewer than 26 judges.
The committee, being headed by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, met with the 26 judges handling corruption cases in various courts with a view to fasttracking trial of over 2,306 corruption cases across the country.
However, the committee, which had shown great impact since it commenced work last year, had divided the country into three zones, for ease of monitoring and evaluation of the cases.
It is, no doubt, that the on-going reforms in the judiciary will yield desired results, especially as we are nearing election year.
We commend the CJN’s untiring effort to ensure that the judiciary’s golden era would return in no distant time. Thus, we believe that before your retirement in 2020, we would have had a judiciary of our dream while urging you to also put a reform that would sustain your reform agenda of a perfect justice system.
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