Abuja - Uche Chukwumerije, a Senator, whose son was part of ‘Team Nigeria’ to the just concluded London Olympics, has called for the resignation of Bolaji Abdullahi, the Minister of Sports, and other senior officials in Nigerian sports administration.
Mr. Chukwumerije spoke to reporters before his departure from London, on Monday, where he had gone to watch his son, a Taekwondo star, and other Nigerian athletes, fail to clinch a medal at the London Olympics.
The Senator, from Abia State, described the Nigerian outing as a “national shame.”
“I believe that now the first and foremost thing that must be done is that somebody will have to take responsibility,” he said.
He argued that “if Nigeria had gotten one single gold medal, they (sports officials) would have been bloating and rejoicing.”
Mr. Chukwumerije argued for the exit of top officials of the Nigerian sports federations.
“All those at the head of sporting authorities, from the minister to the head of the ministry, should be sacked,” he said.
Nigeria went to the London 2012 Olympics with 52 athletes and over 200 officials; with about N2.2 billion spent on preparation and logistics. The country however won no medals.
The closest the country’s team came to winning a medal was the 4X100 women final where they put up their season’s best coming fourth in the race.
Chika, the senator’s son, bore the country’s final hope of clinching a medal after the women’s relay team crashed out. But he dashed all hopes, losing at the quarter finals, to Cuban Robelis Despaigne, in the Men’s +80 kg category.
Chika won a bronze medal in the previous Olympics in Beijing, largely propped by his father’s support.
Sports minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, admitted failure at a news conference in London. He described Team Nigeria’s failure as a clear testimony of the decline in Nigerian sports.
The minister said he will “not attempt any excuses or indulge in any unproductive blame game,” but “see it as an opportunity to rebuild.”
He however gave no intention of resigning from office.
Mr. Chukwumerije also said that the country should not leave the poor performance to fate, but evaluate role play and punish the sports authorities with sack.
“This will serve as a deterrent to others so that they know that in Nigeria there must be a reward or punishment for role performance,” he said.
He added that that Nigeria should shelve its nationalist ego and hire foreign technical experts to coach the athletes.
“We have done enough empty national ego,” he said. “We should get somebody, who will help us to get the requirement for each event. What is the pattern and level of skills wanted to for each event and we will know what to do.’’