Nigerians have heavily criticised the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare following an embarrassing outing regarding the sportswear of Nigerian athletes at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics.
Initially, there was the shameful disapproval of 10 of the nation’s athletes from competing at the Tokyo Olympics by the Athletics Integrity Unit.
Then, the day the first batch of Team Nigeria arrived Tokyo, the team was dressed in different colours and the appearance of the team made a lot of negative impressions and an obvious signal that something was wrong in the West African country.
Before Team Nigeria’s departure, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had unveiled Afa Sports as the official kits supplier for Team Nigeria.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that Nigeria had a subsisting contract with German sportswear giant, Puma.
Sunday Adeleye, a former Technical Director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) said he had never seen such a thing before since he became an adult and followed Nigeria’s participation at the Olympics.
“An athlete going to the Olympics should be well-motivated, and kits are part of it; not when people appear in bathroom slippers and apparel in different colours,” he said.
The embarrassing drama has also resulted in the termination by Puma of $2.76 million contract it had with the AFN.
“As a direct consequence of the recent developments, particularly at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 and pursuant to clauses 9.2 and 7.3 of the Agreement, we hereby terminate the Agreement with immediate effect.
“PUMA especially declares to be discharged from any or all obligations towards all stakeholders involved and reserves all rights against these entities and individuals,” PUMA stated this in a statement signed by its Director, Manuel Edlheimb.
Nigerians took to social media and vented their anger on the sports minister, Dare for allowing Nigeria’s infamous corrupt system to disgrace its sports representatives on the global stage.
A trending video showing Nigeria’s shot put medal hopeful, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, washing his jersey ahead of his final game at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics also riled many Nigerians online.
The TikTok video was initially uploaded by the athlete on his Instagram page, @thechuksay, before he deleted it.
The caption in the video indicated that the athlete was given one jersey for the competition.
“When you made the Olympic Finals, but you only have one jersey,” he wrote.
Consequently, Dare became one of the most trending subjects on Twitter, with many users asking him to resign.
They also showered praises on the athletes for their pains in Japan, based on some reactions SaharaReporters extracted from Facebook.
Trisha Everest Rock-Strong said, “Sad, they should have a New Jersey each time they go for competition. Nigeria is such a sad country compare to the western world. These Nigerian Olympic (athletes) should be in a five-star hotel, with everything on the tip of their hands.”
Sema Inam said, “Yet they expect results from where they didn’t sow. When it’s time enough, God will reward all of them. Please let them be kind enough to assist you guys back to wherever they invited you from, to endure the embarrassments. Welcome home compatriots.”
In her comment, Chidimma Peace Godswill said, “See other countries, down to their kits and face masks! Well packaged. But here, corruption! All the money that would have been used to cater for and support our athletes was shared on a round table meeting.”
“It is all about corruption. I can bet my last dime everything was provided for but the chronic corruption endemic in all facets of our engagements ruin all plans,” Clement Ubaru. “The people entrusted with taking care of things would rather take care of their pockets. Yes, the buck stops at the minister’s table. He should have done better by demanding and getting regular feedbacks both from the athletes and the officials. That is how sane arrangements work.”
“This is so embarrassing…I’m just glad that the guy understands how things run in his country. I’m also happy that he has let everyone know the situation,” Caleb-Omini Eteng said.
Kelechi Okere said, “The only solution to all these problems is recognition of the sovereign state of Biafra and all these shows of shame will stop. But as long as you continue to hold down Biafra, you will continue to have all these types of embarrassing situations.”
“What is really wrong with our sports ministers, present and past. It’s crazy, God bless our athletes in spite of all this drama they’ve shown dexterity,” David Danladi.
In her elaborate comment, Etz Queen Harnuh said, “My best advice to Nigeria athletes is, they should create a group and name it NOC, Naija or Nigeria Olympics committee, where there can represent the country but not governed by the country, even if the country is banned from participating, they can still be involved, that is what Russia athletes did, theirs is ROC. Everyone can go and read on it. To stop our athletes from being embarrassed. Do you know when Nigeria sports page was refreshed last, 2016? The minister of sport doesn’t have any plans for our athletes, that’s why a lot of them were disqualified. That’s why we are not going with a lot of medals cause no form of support is shown. NOC IS THE WAY FOR NIGERIA ATHLETES, SHALLOM.”