Amos Adamu, a former Director-General of the National Sports Commission (NSC) has said that the country’s sports needs transformation and people with strong will and character to pilot its affairs.
Adamu who said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday, blamed the scrapping of the NSC for some of the problem bedeviling sports in the country.
He said he does not know how the transformation would be achieved, but that things had to change if Nigeria must excel at the 2020 Olympic Games scheduled to hold in Tokyo, Japan.
“Forget it if you are waiting to get it right for Tokyo because even government is finding it difficult to get money.
“Getting it correct means that athletes must be in camp in time and you need to pay their bills; if there is no money, you cannot do anything.
“When I was there, I never waited for government money before I do anything; sports is time-bound and if you waste time it will be late.
“I have a way of addressing these issues and people will not know about it.
“When its time, I usually travel to training camps abroad to pay athletes their training grants because I know those of them that can get those medals,’’ Adamu said.
According to him, Nigerian sports industry has plunged beyond imagination and that it would be absurd to begin to make comparison between the present administrators and their predecessors.
“For sports to succeed, it depends on who is in charge, but the way it is now can never be compared with the past; you can see that things were better before than now.
“We should not blame the athletes because you have not given them what will make them to succeed,’’
“Our athletes have done well; they cannot do more than their best and we know certainly that we didn’t prepare for the Rio Games, so, as you make your bed so you lie on it.
“When you are competing with the best in the world, your preparation must be better,’’ he added.
Adamu who was FIFA and CAF executive committee member blamed those who criticised the Dream Team VI tour of Atlanta, noting that such people do not have the interest of sports at heart.
He said: “I am not happy about comments on the footballers that went to Atlanta; comments like who asked them to go, who did they tell before they went and some other disjointed comments.
“If the person that took the team to Atlanta did so to enable the team prepare for the Olympics, it then means that wants the best for the best for Nigeria.
“The initiative has paid off since the team is the only one that won medal at the Rio Olympics; but the minister was initially blaming the person that took the team there.
“You don’t sit down and fold your hands waiting for money to come first, if not the team would have come back from Rio, empty like others.
“Have they not brought glory to the nation; the only medal?
NAN reports that Nigeria won 2 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics; won 1 gold and 2 silver at the Sydney 2000 Olympics and 2 bronze at the Athens 2004 edition.
Nigeria also recorded its name on the medals table at the Beijing 2008 Olympics with 2 silver and 2 bronze but failed to win any at the London 2012 Olympics before the 1 bronze at the Rio Games.
Nigeria’s 2008 Olympics outing changed from 1 silver and 3 bronze, to 2 silver and 2 bronze after the International Olympics Committee (IOC) disqualified Russian sprinter Yulia Chermoshanskaya, early this month for doping at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Russian women’s 4×100 meter relay team was retroactively disqualified and subsequently stripped of a gold medal after Chermoshanskaya’s samples tested positive for banned drugs.
That means Belgium will be upgraded to the relay gold, with Nigerian team (Franca Idoko, Gloria Kemasuode, Halimat Ismaila, Oludamola Osayomi) moving up to silver and Brazil to bronze.
A total of 98 sportsmen and sportswomen were caught cheating after the IOC reanalysed more than 1000 doping samples from the 2008 Beijing Games and 2012 London Olympics.