EDITORIAL: Investigating The Foreign Donation To Nigeria's Team; A Call For Review of Leadership Style.
Even as Nigeria's sports ministry suffers a backlash for questioning the source of the money donated by Japanese Surgeon, Katsuya Takasu to Nigeria's dream team VI, it must be pointed out that it is not entirely out of place for Nigerian officials to ascertain that the money being given to Nigeria's "national team" is clean and without strings attached. However in the light of the circumstances and controversies surrounding the non-payment of the players which was highlighted by Dr. Takasu's donation, such inquiry/investigation should have been carried out privately and in a manner that wouldn't have given the impression to the public (already unhappy with Nigerian officials over the no-payment saga) that the Nigerian officials are being petty and vindictive."
In a recent editorial on the Rio Olympics no-payment saga we questioned the priorities of officials at the Nigerian sports ministry and football federation, and lamented the lack of remorse or any sincere apology from the officials to the players or Nigerians in general. Yet in optimism the editorial urged the authorities to learn the lessons necessary to avoid a repeat of the shame.
In Kenya, two officials have appeared in court over their alleged mismanagement of the Kenyan team at the Rio Olympics. In Zimbabwe, the presidency has called on the team to refund monies spent for their Rio trip. While not condoning such debatable measures as in Zimbabwe, the point being made is that in other countries people are being held responsible and called to account for their shortcomings. We are yet to see any official being asked to account in Nigeria for the Olympics saga. Rather they are emboldened to publicly challenge a foreigner who has ironically reminded them of the need to compensate heroes who fought to bring some glory to the nation and to put a bit of a smile on the faces of millions of Nigerians dealing with an aggressive economic recession and a threat of breakdown in security. Accordingly, Nigerians have reason to be unhappy with Nigerian officials for going after a perceived "philanthropist," when the officials themselves have not shown remorse or taken responsibility for the Olympic no-payment saga.
In an interview with Vanguard, Samson Siasia, coach of Nigeria's national (U-23) dream team VI has this to say regarding the lack of reception or appreciation from the government after they returned from Rio with the bronze medal. "Personally, I was not really surprised that they did not welcome us because most of them were actually waiting and praying for us to fail but we disappointed them by winning that medal. But most sports loving Nigerians who were not on the saddle came out on their own and they were the ones that really appreciated what we did."
The achieving Coach has this to say about his repeated frustration with Nigeria's sports leadership: "Nothing has changed in the last two years. It has been from bad to worse, so we must sit down and do something about the structure of Nigerian football and by extension sports in general. It doesn’t worth it to work with the people running sports now in Nigeria. From the Federation to the sports ministry."
A nation is ruined if leaders who are supposed to lead and solve problems allow themselves to be distracted by engaging in denials, passing the buck, and blaming critics and the opposition for every challenge or problem encountered. It is even worse when many of such problems have been created by mismanagement, wayward leadership, and misplacement of priorities. Such nation is doomed if those who should speak-out decide to keep quiet when those with the responsibility to act choose to do nothing.
Incidents like this bring to the forefront certain anomalies that any leadership should address so as to better relate with the electorate. There is a tendency by some of our leaders to always deny responsibility even in the face of an obvious leadership blunder, but rather blame critics, or the opposition whenever there is an issue with the disbursement of government resources or the execution of power and leadership style.
The irony is that while such leaders tend to think they have to enforce their authority in the affairs and lives of the populace at all times, these tendencies only go on to alienate the leaders from the led. The reactions of the electorate should serve as the mirror and standard for a good leader to adjudge his performances in office.
Yet, do our leaders make time to read or listen?