Tokyo 2020: As Nigerian Paralympians fulfill promise, return with 10 medals…

Despite series of troubles in the country that has caused distractions to both the country and individuals, President Muhammadu Buhari still considers the sporting sector as one of the critical areas that deserves his attention and commendation as exemplified with the U-20 athletes that emerged victorious with four gold and three bronze medals at the just ended African Youth Athletics Championship in Nairobi, Kenya.

The President acknowledged them for breaking and setting new records with their participation more so as they have added colour to his administration.

Similarly, the 24 athletes that participated in the just concluded Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan have practically proven that there is ability in disability. Their composition, inspiration, beauty, healthiness and sincerity of purpose are convincing truth that “one’s destiny is in his hands.”

Some of their enviable characteristics which include; their less complain, request, unnecessary attention from the media and above all, not accepting pity from the public makes them significant. They are specially and wonderfully made people that believe “that excellent performance attracts excellent reward” despite any challenges. They are in the school of thought that sees challenges as the devils distraction to present them worthless before their equals. From their day of departure to Tokyo, they had one voice of assurance to the country “To make their country proud and bring back Gold medals as their own appreciation to the government and ministry for the huge amount spent on them in this economic meltdown.

So much attention is usually focused on the able bodied athletes, so much love and care is shown to them as part of encouragement, so much attention on their training equipments to ensure best performance, so much caution on their allowances with increase to enhance better expectation, so much attraction and attention is drawn from the media for unpaid popularity with distinguished contingents to accompany them for an expected memorable outing but at the end of great expectations, it was mostly “indomie” in a colourful pack garnished with apologies to Nigerians and the federal government in particular.

Credit should therefore be given to these paralypians because they traveled quiet and clean, competed clean, came back clean with clean medals. Besides their challenge, they are great assets to their generation. Though they need walking support but have independent mind of not only representing the society but also empowering the youths to be self-employed. Some of them are tailors while some are Chief Executives of their private business. They are very unique unlike the able bodied athletes because after representation to the government, they fall back on their independent skills. Most of the able bodied athletes in contrast only parade the streets and ministries after their days of wasted generated funds and opportunities.

However, the ministers of sports are usually political appointees that are subject to unexpected change and there is much hatred and envy when a new appointee emerges.

In most cases, the new ministers may not be well informed enough to note that the programmes of sports sector are almost the same and need continuity as well as synergy with past ministers for actualization of same goal which basically is nurturing athletes ahead of time.

However, the present Minister, Sunday Dare in his wisdom has initiated brilliant projects for the youths that needs long time sustainability but the question remains the rhetorical question of late Sunny Okosun “where do we go from here?

We have seen that he is well educated, well composed, and presentable and a better political figure when a minister’s presence is needed to represent the country. He was also careful in his selection of both special and personal aids that are professionals in sporting activities unlike some past ministers that appointed persons that tried to make a blind system look workable.

A man with transparent and workable ideas knows how he wishes to actualize them and as well, make them his legacies. The ideas of Sunday Dare need defined and protected coverage that can still require his presence even if he is no longer an authority of the sector. This administration politically is expected to relinquish power in less than two years from now and the next Olympics will be in four years’ time. Some of the supporting staff of the ministry will be retiring with this administration while some will be promoted to fill succession gap. There is question mark on what project is in place for continuity when they are promoted to take over leadership in preparation of expectation?

Congratulations to our amiable paralympians that fought at the podium performance and brought home all the different categories of medals which comprise four gold, five silver and one bronze medals.

I join millions of Nigerians Seto appeal to the Hon. Minister and President Buhari to also see these able paralympians in the same view as they would have treated footballers if they had won these laurels for the country. Something like landed properties could serve as “Dignified Gifts”.

Nwokorie is a press Officer with Ministry of Youth & Sports Development.