Nigerian Athletics Rotting Deeper With AFN’s Mess.

Nigerian Athletics Rotting Deeper With AFN’s Mess.

Daniel Ademiju Idowu

There’s hardly any debate about the most popular sports in Nigeria and there is hardly anyone who would argue the popularity of Athletics just behind football.

Nigeria was neither a powerhouse in World Athletics nor a weak underdog in Athletics but it never lacked talents, especially in sprints and relay races, to remain relevant and counted.

Nigerian Athletics Rotting Deeper With AFN's Mess.

Chioma Ajunwa dazzled at the Olympics in Atlanta 1996 to win Nigeria’s first Gold medal, Falilat Ogunkoya, Mary Onyali were some of the few who could be classified as “World-class” athletes.

Olusoji Fasuba, Blessing Okagbare, and Divine Oduduru are a few of the minute group of the current generation of runners that still faintly carry the candle of hope for the sport.

Well, whatever efforts these guys are putting in have been frustrated by a lot of “lacks”, lack – of funding, adequate preparation, world-class training equipment, motivation, and engagements.

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Nigerian Athletics Rotting Deeper With AFN’s Mess.

These have been a long-term issue but solving them has never been harder as the sports itself lacks a Federation currently, the same Federation that’s supposed to oversee the running of Athletics in Nigeria.

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) is in shreds in every meaning and form currently. The leadership of the federation is non-existent with more fractions than what you will get on a Mathematics equation or formula.

The greed and cankerworm of corruption have eaten deep and officials have failed to drop personal gains for the progress of the Federation and the Sport in general.

Nigerian Athletics Rotting Deeper With AFN's Mess.

Ibrahim Gusau as the president of AFN, Olamide George-led AFN board, Mr. Pepple S.Y. claiming to be the director-general of AFN at some point, the AFN leadership has people but in shambles.

Ibrahim Gusau was suspended 2 years ago due to the missing $135, 000 erroneously paid to the country in 2017 by the world athletics body, IAAF.

Olamide George was elected acting president while Mr. Pepple S. Y. Is the one-time self-acclaimed leader of the AFN.

However, even though all the lacks mentioned above have always been ever-present in the sport, it has gotten worse in the last decade that no tangible success or progress has been recorded in Nigerian athletics.

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So bad that the country hasn’t won a single medal at the last three Olympics in athletics, during that period, the National Sports Festival also experienced a blackout between 2012 and 2018.

While Nigerian athletes manage to get medals at African event, the success at that level is a distraction from the bigger picture.

Nigerian Athletics Rotting Deeper With AFN's Mess.

Nigerian Athletics Rotting Deeper With AFN’s Mess.

Blessing Okagbare and Divine Oduduru are the few athletes that manage to appear at the IAAF Diamond league but both athletes have severally criticized the state of things in the AFN.

However, while trying not to sound like a Prophet of Doom all through, there are rays of hope that can lead to the Sunlight even from the darkest part of the cave where the AFN and Athletics in the country seem to be.

A river that forgets its source will soon dry up, it’s a Yoruba adage, but in this context Athletics just like every sport in the country has forgotten the “Grass-root” where the talents come from.

Where is the Mobil track and field events?, the popular Inter-house competitions has been largely crippled, even the National Sports Festival once went on coma between 2012 and 2018 while the 2020 edition is taking shifts because of the Covid-19 situation.

Nevertheless, there is a need for a proper reorganization of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, elimination of corruption which has bedeviled the federation, and proper provision of an enabling environment for Athletes to thrive.

Nigerian Athletics Rotting Deeper With AFN’s Mess.

However, after all said and done, if a revival is to start, it has to be from the Federation itself, trickling down to the other areas else, the deeper the mess in the AFN the more athletics rot in the country.

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