Ndanusa`s Record Against His Promises: He Failed Woefully
President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua chose to appoint Engineer Sani Mohammed Ndanusa as his Sports Minister from among the technocrats in the sports fraternity. Ndanusa, a water engineer, had served as Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure in Niger State. His appointment was so hailed and heralded with flowery pomp, pageantry and expectations. Some pundits pointed to the fact that since the advent of the Fourth Republic in 1999 this was a correct appointment. This is because, unlike his predecessors, he had served as President of the Nigeria Tennis Federation for 12 years.
Ndanusa assumed office telling us in his words 'it's not going to be business as usual'. He promised to reinvigorate Nigerian sports by repositioning the Sports Federations, provide standard infrastructures and restore athletes' confidence in the sports authorities. On a first measure, these three promises he failed woefully
Quoting one of his interviews: “I've been around for some time, specifically in Tennis, but
I think I've been to a number of sporting events and I consider myself as an insider. What I know is the need to re-engineer the sporting structure of this country, re-engineering from the grassroots because definitely I want to say that grassroots is the place to be and tap talents. Ask, even Bida where he has come from, if charity truly starts at home, how many talents was discovered? By his words, did he not fail? He added in the interview “we want to make sure that no child is disenfranchised. You might have the flair for badminton, you might for volleyball, basketball, but where are the facilities at the grassroots? That is why am starting by providing facilities from the local government level; that's why I'm coming up with what we call Community Sports Complexes. Uhm! Need I say anything further? Not one of such was built even as a model.
I recall vividly a personal letter I had written him. I warned him that this programme is not originally his. Given my decades of experience being an athlete for 25 years since 1976 when we got into sports, growing to be a sports journalist having posted 22 years I warned him. He took to his frail heart. History, the fairest judge today acknowledges him as a blatant failure in that direction. Prospective concessionaires, who had earlier had their bids for certain sports disciplines like athletics, basketball, cricket et al ratified as winning bids, were later unceremoniously dumped. The would-be concessionaires watched in astonishment as elections were being conducted to the Boards of the same sports federations meant to be concessioned to them. Investigations revealed that some of the organisations that won bids but were later denied concession were yet to get a refund of their fees paid for the bids.
The former Chairman of the National Sports Commission (NSC) threatened to sack the Board of any sport federation that failed to organize, at least, two major competitions in a year. As at the time he was relieved of his duty, 90% of the Boards of the sports federations had failed to meet this target. Mr. Ndanusa pretended that all was well.
Rather, some of the sports federations could not fund the trip of their athletes to continental and global tournaments. The few federations that managed to smuggle themselves and their athletes did so by borrowing and ending up in debts. For instance, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), is alleged to in debt to some banks to the tune of N16 million spent on making sure that the country was represented at last year's World Athletics Championships in Berlin; The same is true of the Boxing Federation, the Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN), Weightlifting Federation of Nigeria (WFN), Basketball Federation of Nigeria (NBBF).
CORPORATE SPONSORS AND TAX RELIEF:
Many atimes, Ndanusa went to the attic preaching tax holiday to sponsors and corporate organisations to sponsor sports. This did not yield any dividend. What we had was a situation where sponsors who had years of identification with some sports disciplines chose to terminate the existing agreements and relationship. For instance, Globacom, the telecommunication giant, which had the franchise to all the lucrative brands of the copiously corrupt Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), only late last year announced the withdrawal of its patronage.
However, rather than delivering on his promises, Ndanusa instead hugged the headlines for all the wrong reasons, the bright side being only that Nigeria returned to the FIFA World Cup under his stewardship, however costly it was.
He struggled throughout his tenure promising to uplift 'the lesser sports'. Ironically, even tennis which as the pedestal he used to reach his position he could not develop! He was very busy with football and kicking against Shaibu Amodu. He presided over Nigeria's most corrupt sports federation, the Nigeria Football Federation. Ndanusa successfully entered the pages of history as the first sports minister to preside over where $400,000 was stolen but his Commission said it was $236,000 and the agency from where it was stolen said it was $200,000. Whichever was actually missing, no trace could be established. The police despite its sophistry could not deliver the whole truth about the saga. Uhm! Like all criminal mysteries in officialdom, this may also be one of the unfinished businesses.
U-17 WORLD CUP:
Candidly, Ndanusa's most outstanding achievement was the execution of the U-17 World Cup. So much monies were allegedly mismanaged. Had President Umar Musa Yar'Adua had permitted ab initio, Nigeria would have lost N37billion to the event. He approved N9billion and later another N3billion but we gathered about N18billion was eventually spent.Desperately guided by the goons and foxes in the NSC to etch his name in history books as the minister who hosted and won the 2009 FIFA Under-17 World Cup, they chose to look the other way whilst the football federation supervised the assemblage of age-cheats for the Golden Eaglets whose ambition was truncated by an obviously younger side from Switzerland.
NATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE:
We thought we warned him that his advisers never meant well for him. He was pushed to bid for the Presidency of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC). Though, in truth, his opponent, Habu Gumel, wwho got the position vide the trickery of the NSC officials is no better than him. Between the two of them, it is the case of to extreme evils. The dispute created by his candidature was eventually resolved in his favour using official manipulations. Thank God for the goodluck in Mr Jonathan. Had the Nupe man remained as the NSC boss, he would squandered himself therein as the first Nigerian to reign as the sports minister, president of the Nigeria Tennis Federation and president of the NOC all, at the same time. All of the positions where he is a celebrated failure!
Olajide Ayodeji Fashikun,
Director, Sports Development & Marketing,
Nigeria Sports Development Fund Inc.,