Nigeria @ 58: We‘ve Done Well, Says Prince Oduah


.Says,“governments at all levels should do more for sports”

As the country celebrates her 58 Independence anniversary today (Monday) veteran sports administrator, Prince Oguejiofor Isidoreh Oduah, has declared that the country has recorded some developments in sports.

According to him despite the fact that the country is not yet there in terms of sports development that does not mean that the country has not recorded any significant development in terms of sports.

The former member of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) and the only none indigene of Lagos State Football Association (LSFA) disclosed that despite the developments so far recorded in both talent and infrastructural developments, the country is yet to reach their potential in sports but the various levels of governments are not doing enough for the development of this critical sector of the nation’s sector.

According to him most governments are paying lip service to sports development in the country as they have abandoned the sector to its fate saying it shouldn’t be so because those that engage in sports are the vibrant youth population.

It said it amount to hypocrisy when politicians mount the podium during campaign to declare that they will empower the youth only to relegate sports to the background in their activities knowing fully well that old people do not participate actively in sports but youth do.

“I would like to start by saying that Nigeria at 58, we have recorded tremendous achievements in sports since gaining independence from Great Britain in 1960,” Oduah began.

“In terms of infrastructure and talent discovery and development, we have recorded some development but that is not to say that we have reached our potentials as a country. We are still far away from where we are supposed to be as a country.

“Nigeria is a great country with vast human and material resources that if well managed, will be the envy of the rest of the world. We are very far away from where we are supposed to be as a great country sports wise.

“It is most regrettable that when politicians mount the podium during electioneering, they will reel out how they want to better the lots of the youths of this country but when they are elected, they totally forget sports which is the only area that millions of youths can be engaged.

“I think sports wise Nigeria as a country has tried. Of course Rome was not but a day. We have made improvement.

“Having said that, I am of the opinion that our youths are not doing enough because for over 20 years when Chioma Ajunwa set world record in long jump at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, no Nigerian has been able to equal that record let alone smashing it. It doesn’t show progress.

“In other countries, such a thing doesn’t happen often.  The record ought to have been broken before now but it is still intact which means we are not making progress in that regard,” Prince Oduah said.

Speaking further, the elder statesman disclosed that he is particularly pained that in his own state of Anambra, sports is literally dead despite counseling Obiano to the sector a pride of place it deserves when he returned for 2nd term as he did absolutely nothing for sports in his first tenure.

“You see I have personal pained as sports in my state of Anambra is absolutely dead despite counseling Governor Willie Obiano to give this critical sector the pride of place it deserves as he returned at the helm of affairs after the expirations of his first tenure.

“Sports and security were the reasons I canvassed for his return during the electioneering. I canvassed for support for him during the electioneering but his return that sector is either dead or is in coma because not his happening there despite all that I told him via the media he should do for the youth through sports. It is most unfortunate,” Prince Oduah declared.

Speaking further, the Prince of Ochuche that despite the improvement the country has recorded in sports it is not enough and as a result called on the governments at all levels to invest on the youth of the country through sports.

“There is no doubt that there is improvement in our sports but that is not enough. We should invest on our youth through sports to get what we want.

“Sports is very critical in the life of any country because everybody cannot be lawyers, medical doctors, engineers, architect, priests, businessmen etc.

“When we invest in our youths through sports, we will certainly get the best out of them in their chosen careers.

“Sports is neglected in this country. The Super Eagles participated in the last FIFA World Cup in Russia it is true that they didn’t go far, but they made their mark. If they are given all the necessary supports and adequate preparations I believed that they would have done better.

“More importantly, I want to state that sports development should not be left in the hands of governments alone, but the government has a very critical role to play.

“The governments at all level must provide the enabling environment for sports to thrive in the country and the private sector on their part should partner the governments to ensure that sports provide jobs for the teeming youths. Any country that neglects their youth is doomed,” Oduah declared.

“It is not enough to say that government is working for the development of the youth when sports is neglected. When no attention is given to sports development.

“It is true that some sports infrastructures have been provided since our independence because at Independence, we only had the Liberty stadium, the king George Stadium that is the Onikan stadium as the reasonable stadia in the country, but today we have a lot of stadia including the world class stadium Nest of Champions in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital to show for the strides that have been made in sports infrastructure in the country.

“It behooves on us as a country to maximize the opportunity that sports provides to empower our youths in order to reduce the unemployment rates in this country,” Prince Oduah said.

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