• ‘Sports Minister has no business in London’
Former Nigerian jumper, hurdler and sprinter, Coach Seigha Porbeni has predicted that the nation’s athletics will get messier in the coming days if the Presidency folds its hands and watches the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, ‘toy’ with the sports.
The 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championship is in its seventh day in London with no sign that a Nigerian athlete will make it to the podium. Signs that the nation might return home empty-handed began to appear when sprinter Blessing Okagbare failed to make it to the final of the 100m event. On Monday evening, all three athletes flying the nation’s flag in the 400m event, Patience Okon George, Yinka Ajayi and Margaret Bamgbose crashed out in the semifinal with schoolgirls performance. It was followed by a schoolboy display by triple jumper, Tosin Oke, just as Glory Onome Nathaniel was disqualified in the women’s 400m hurdles on Tuesday evening.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Porbeni, a former Director of Sports in Delta State, said Nigeria would continue to reap bad results in athletics as long as Dalung remains the ‘commander-in-chief.’
“You can’t have butterflies in your backyard and claim that you have birds,” Porbeni said. “It is what you sow that you reap. Athletics is practical. If you prepare well, you achieve good results. I make bold to say that Nigerian athletics will suffer more damaging results in the coming days because the government seems to have lost everything.”
In his active days as athlete, Porbeni was an all-rounder, competing in seven different sports. He was Nigeria’s first decathlete. He later trained as a coach and it was Porbeni who introduced combined events into the nation’s athletics, when the National Stadium, Lagos, was like the Mecca of sports.
He puts the blame of poor performance recorded by Team Nigeria in London at the doorstep of the Sports Minister Dalung, saying: “Nigerians should find out how many sports ministers from other countries are attending the on-going championship in London. What business has Dalung in London? It is a shame that a minister, who did not care how his athletes prepared for a competition, could abandon other things back home to go to London. The man has killed our sports and the Presidency should wade in as quickly as possible before things get out of hand. Nobody should blame the athletes for the poor show in London.”