Anatomy of an Award as Toure wins BBC African Footballer of the Year

Toure: The cosen one

Toure: The cosen one

Yesterday Yaya Toure was crowned BBC’s African footballer of the year.The Ivory Coast and Manchester City midfielder, who had been nominated in each of the past four years, beat Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Victor Moses, John Mikel Obi and Jonathan Pitroipa to this year’s crown.

The shortlist for the award was drawn up by 44 football experts across Africa, who based their choices on players’ skill, technical ability, teamwork, consistency and fair play.

A record number of fans then voted for their favourite either online or by text message.

Well while its the fans that vote and clearly Yaya is an amazing and deserving winner I have an issue here, why Mikel Obi did not win the award…not because I believe he is a more skillful player but when you have won the Champions league, Europa league, Premier league, FA cup, League cup for club and the Nations cup and world cup ticket for country, I think you deserve it. In terms of these trophies in recent times, he is way ahead of  Toure. It does not matter? Oh yes it does. In recent times I remember when Jayjay Okocha lost it. Achievements at club level and failures of the Super Eagles were given as the reason.

Is it that African viewers are not knowledgeable enough or I am just being patriotic?

‘Abandoned’- Paralympians cry for support

Just as they were overlooked during the Nigerian Sports Awards, our Paralympians have been totally neglected by the government and sports authorities. While Football, athletics and some other sports get government funding to attend continental and international competitions, our disabled athletes do not get anything and it seems they would only be remembered when the commonwealth Games comes and our preferred sports fail to win any medals.

Abandoned athletes. Paralympians only remembered when others have failed.

Abandoned athletes. Paralympians only remembered when others have failed.

A source very close  to the athletes with disability disclosed to me that they have been subjected to begging and humiliation. And the athletes are getting disillusioned. “Can you imagine that we did not attend any competition this year? This is just months after winning four Olympic Gold medals at the London Games. A feat the able athletes could not do.” The source lamented.

“There has been no funds from government. They do not take us seriously. The Fazza Open Championship in Dubai, which used to be a regular for qualification and ranking, we did not attend..why? No funds. But if there was a wedding by one musician, the whole government will troop to Dubai.”

Further investigation revealed that we failed to attend the European Open in Lyon in July, which is another big competition for the Sports and most recently the International Wheelchair Games in Holland which took place in September was a no show for Nigeria.

If cash to attend foreign competitions was a problem, back home organizing local competition has been impossible due to cash too. In fact the federation is so cash strapped that it cancelled its only local competition, the national open which was to take place in November.

If government has failed them, so to have the corporate sponsors. Even Shell Petroleum, that hosted them and promised support after the Paralympic Games where the athletes  were very successful, have not aided them at all. One athlete who begged to remain anonymous complained, ” We are just redundant. How do we train? Its only when the able body fail they come and say we should help the country. Now they do not want to help us.”

It will recalled that after our disappointing showing in the Olympics where Nigeria won no medals at all, the Paralympians went to the Paralympics a week later and won 4 gold medals and 2 silver medals. The athletes and some government officials received cash rewards from President Jonathan for this feat. As a matter of fact, while the able athletes have won only 3 Gold medals for Nigeria in 60 years of Olympic participation, the Paralympians have won  22 Gold medals in twenty years of Paralympic participation.

Diplomatic Disaster- Nigerian Embassy shuts out National Hero

While I was determined not to post anything negative that will portray our great nation in bad light, our leaders seem to just have a skill for doing crazy and wrong things. I refused to publish this story when it broke yesterday because I felt Nigerians needed something positive and inspiring but however we owe it a point of duty to tell things as they are.

Nigerian Sporting icon serving his country

Nigerian Sporting icon serving his country

Olumide Oyedeji, Ex NBA star and current captain of the Nigerian Basket ball team was having a basket ball clinic in London. He was organizing a clinic for kids in the slums of London at Peckham. This was to discourage gun and knife crimes amongst the youth especially black youth. Statistics had shown that 66% of all knife and gun crimes involved black youths and 44% of these youths had Nigerian origins.

THE CLINIC  the embassy turned down

THE CLINIC the embassy turned down

The event tagged ” Shoot a ball not a Gun and Pick a book not a Knife” is part of the charity work carried out by his organization ” the Olumide Oyedeji Youth Foundation”. Olumide recently visited the BBC studio’s in London where he was a guest on the programme ” focus on Africa”  to talk about his charity work and more. As a great ambassador to Nigeria that he is, he felt he could lift the image of the country in a positive way by doing this and to help the government take credit for work they did not do, he decided to go and present a basketball gift to the ambassador FREE OF CHARGE with no strings attached. Just so Nigeria gets more positive publicity. After getting support in the clinics held in South Africa, US, China  and even London from their governments, Olumide was turned back at the gates of the Nigerian High Commission in London. Despite writing them letters for over a year telling them of the program, they neither responded nor wanted to see him. In spite of confirmation that the High commissioner was available, Prince Tajudeen Adeniyi Gbadamosi SA to the high commissioner spoke to him  via intercom saying”Go to another country’s embassy for support”

The BBC were happy to be part of this good deed

The BBC were happy to be part of this good deed

I boil with anger. This is our national hero, Olympian, NBA superstar, current captain to the national team, and someone that has done nothing to lift the name of the country turns him back without even the dignity of seeing him. SHAME on them. To think that the venue was the Damilola Taylor center, a venue named after a young Nigerian that was killed by gun and knife crime just a few years ago…its incredible how wicked and short sighted our leaders can be. Probably if Olumide had come to show support for a GEJ 2015 election support he would have been welcomed with red carpet.

Well, who needs them (government officials) anyway. The clinic went on successfully and the kids were really pleased. “God Bless you all for your support. I appreciate your prayers. The kids had so much fun and even had time to dance.” Olumide said after the clinic.

By next year , Nigeria  would call on Olumide to come and help his country qualify for the Olympics again.

The clinic went on successfully without the embassy's support

The clinic went on successfully without the embassy’s support

some of olumide's tweets showing his anger and frustration

some of olumide’s tweets showing his anger and frustration

Mobolaji Akiode: Bringing Some Hope For Girls

Mo at the Olympics in Athens. An accomplished athlete giving back

Mo at the Olympics in Athens. An accomplished athlete giving back

There has been so much to say this week on different sports around the country, even things that the newspapers are not picking but sadly, most of the stories or reports are quite negative towards our sports or our sporting administrators and I am determined not to let my my blog be a place for negative stories and sensational reports so I have gone to find a bright light in the environment of gloom. Something to give hope to our sports and our people. Enter Mobolaji Akiode.

I first met this ever smiling pretty lady during the Olympics at Athens, Greece. She was a member of the Basketball Team and she stood out in various ways. She was intelligent and free spirited. Always talking positively of her sports, her country and her life. I recently met up with Mo and was intrigued to see how she has so soon after retirement started to impact the lives of a lot of people with her project Hope 4 Girls.

Mo has taken hundreds of young girls through different camps

”Hope 4 Girls is a sports foundation using the platform of basketball to empower underprivileged girls.” She tells me with a sparkle in her eyes. You can see her passion and belief in the work. “Well I wanted to give back to society in a way that positively effected my life growing up and being part of a team and a school program really helped me develop the right habits as a young woman and I didn’t see enough of that here in Nigeria.” She explained when I asked why she started this laudable project. “I guess people only believe in using sport to win or lose, but for children it can develop really the right character, discipline, and leadership needed to succeed in life and I wanted as many girls as possible to have that opportunity to learn that.”


The camps started way back in 2009 and they have had different programs since. I grew very interested in the whole idea and asked her what achievements they had recorded so far. With a bright chuckle which is her classy trademark, Mo says.”We are still alive”. You do need to understand how difficult it is to do things in Nigeria to appreciate what an achievement staying alive for four years is. I understood this immediately since I am running a foundation myself but she then explains.

”That’s totally an achievement and if anyone knows how tough this Nigerian environment is can probably relate. On another note we have 6 kids on scholarship between Nigeria and u.s, One will be graduating university in may 2014. We are working on 2 more scholarships in n2014 and our foundation is the breeding ground for lagos youth girls basketball. If not for the last minute pull out, we would have represented lagos state at the youth festival. Our kids have gone on to represent lagos twice in the milo national finals 2011 and 2012 and would have done so this year as well, but I won’t comment on why they didn’t. We represent everything that is right about grassroots development and sports participation and that to me is an accomplishment”

Sponsorship has been a big problem but notable organizations have supported the project such as The U.S consulate in Lagos, Ovie Brume foundation and Toyota and Better Africa Foundation who has been there from the beginning. She admits that over the years some others have played roles in their activities. Long term support is something she desires now.”If you want to grow and do more than we are doing, we are going to need more support and long term so we can have a strategic plan, but all in all, I’m happy we are still able to manage what we can.”

h4g3 h4g6 h4g5

There are many people that have received scholarship from Hope for Girls like Ruth Omotayo, Uju Ugoka, Felicia Ayietan, Olamide Aborowa, Pallas Akpanah, Ijeoman Uchendu. This is an amazing feat and then I relaxed, looked into her eyes and asked her, “What next? What is the Future of Hope 4 Girls?” Then for the first time, Mo’s smile disappears but the sparkle in her eyes brightened. After what seemed like ages she said, “I think for us the next step is to figure out ways to begin to help girls off the court. For example what can we do with girls who have graduated high school but can’t afford to go to the University? Can we help them start some small business that can sustain them, keep them motivated and use it as a tool to empower them so when they can be able to send themselves to school?” This impressed me. Because we as sports men are too quick to find handouts from government. Forgetting that success or failure lies on our doorstep not anybody. I look admirably at Mo. What a person. What an athlete. With a few more like her we would have hope not just for girls but our sports and our entire country.


NFF owing KESHI….So Bloody What?- NFF President

The NFF never ceases to amuse me. Two days ago, moments after receiving an award as the Sports administrator of the year, the NFF president Aminu Maigari defended his organizations debts owed Super Eagles Coach Stephen Keshi. According to the Vanguard he said:

“Yes we are owing Keshi, so what?” he asked, adding, “but Keshi is not the only employee in the NFF who has not got his salary. We have about 11 national teams and all have coaches. It is only fair that we treat them equally. My management staff have not received their salaries for over a year and nobody is making noise about it.”

He spoke further. “We have to be very careful the way we amplify this Keshi salary issue. If this is unduly amplified we will be downgrading our country,” Maigari said, pointing out that “apart from salary, Keshi doesn’t pay for anything.

“The house he lives in is paid for by NFF, the food he eats is NFF, his movement (transport) is NFF. So what are we talking about?”

I am amused…ok. you give him food, maybe pay his light bills, maybe send money to his wife…but I ask..doesn’t he have a contract. Shouldn’t he be paid? He should be apologetic and sad not flexing muscles. If the NFF were so broke why all the rumours about hiring a foreign coach? Do you think a foreigner would work seven months without pay?

Keshi cannot believe it when Garba tell him he has not been paid for one year.

Keshi cannot believe it when Garba tells him he has not been paid for one year.

Well one truth he said , which Nigerians should know…Keshi is not the only one owed…in fact Keshi is owed for ‘only’ seven months. Its important for journalists to let all Nigerians know that Manu Garba, the Coach of the record breaking , world conquering U17  Golden Eaglets has not been paid for one year. Yes. So Keshi should just keep quiet. Is he the only one haba? Did you notice that Maigari said HIS management staff have not been paid too? He did not say HE has not been paid.

Just thinking aloud.

Nigerian Sports Awards: Beyond the Glitz….

Now the awards have come and gone..I want to take a deeper look at the whole awards ceremony. Well we all know organizing can be a problem for us so I do not want to dwell on the pitfalls of that. Rather I want to look at the nominees and categories of the award itself.

There were so many flaws in these that a very competent panel that consists of people like  Ikeddy Isiguzo, Dr.Gloria Obajimi, Fabio Olanipekun ,Felix Awogu, Falilat Ogunkoya,Ejiro Omonode and Fred Edoreh should have  corrected or at least seen.

The Panel of the Sports Awards still have a lot to do

The Panel of the Sports Awards still have a lot to do

First, it’s sad that our sportsmen with disabilities were not recognized. This is highly discriminatory. Apart from the fact that they are our most successful athletes in Olympic participation and international competitions, we should be seen to be all inclusive in our awards. There should have been an award for Sportsman of the year with disability and Sportswoman of the year with disability.

Second, we are forgetting our veterans. It is important that each year we honour at least one veteran, even if it’s  posthumously. Our national anthem tells it all, “The labor of our heroes past, shall never be in vain”. Those sport men and women of yesteryears have laid the foundation of our success today.

Another category missing was “Sport supporter of the year’’. this should be given to corporate sponsors of sport to encourage them. Corporate organization are needed for sports development and the one  way to encourage them is to recognize them when they do well.

Then away from the absentee categories, There were some categories that should not exist. One in particular,  Ball Sports personality of the Year. This was won (refreshingly I must say) by Amna Quadri  (table tennis). But what exactly is Ball sport? Is football not a ball sport? Why didn’t you  also give a “non-ball sport” award?

Then what was the criteria of picking the school sports award? How did the nominees emerge? Why was the award looking like something confined to schools in Lagos (with a contribution from Delta). Why and how did Greensprings win?  I think they should be more reasons and transparency for winning that award.

Some awards exposed the lack of research or info by  the panel especially in the nominees.  Track and field star of the year had only two nominees. While the winner was not in doubt, we have had more than just the two outstanding performance all year, starting from the sports festival last year to date. It was also surprising to see that U17 eaglets were not even nominated for team of the year while warri wolves(why on earth, I can’t seem to understand)were nominated.

To conclude, while the Nigeria sports awards are a good thing, There should be transparency in the awards, there should be more information and research to determine nominees, all categories should have constant number of nominees (I propose five) except special recognition awards, and also we should honor veterans ,sponsors and people with disabilities.

These are just my views.

Incompetence or more corruption? NSC sends three-man delegation to understudy South Africa

NSC chairman seems at a loss on the direction of Nigerian Sports

NSC chairman seems at a loss on the direction of Nigerian Sport

Just as the National Sports Commission said we did not have enough human resources in our country to run the High Performance Center so they employed foreigners, they have sent three Nigerians to Pretoria for one month to ‘understudy’ South Africa in how to ‘run’ a High Performance center. Well I do not have issues in ‘training’ our people but I will like to ask and clarify…Why South Africa? A country known to be hostile to Nigerians in many ways despite having big businesses here and making huge profits. Are we preparing a High performance center in Rugby, cricket or rowing? We better South Africa in most Sports we compete in, soccer, track and field, Basketball,weight lifting and boxing, has anyone from South Africa come here to understudy us? One month understudy? Who are the people sent there?  The names of the three man team included Dr. Onyeudo, Dayo Ogunkunle and one other physiologist. Are they coaches? Administrators? What are their functions and roles in the NSC? There are lots of questions that need to be answered but the only thing we can assure you for sure is that there was a huge budget, esctacodes were paid and somehow money has changed hands.

The Nigerian Sports Awards: Glitz, Glamour

Yours truly at the Sports Awards.

Yours truly at the Sports Awards.

The second edition of the Nigerian Sports Awards took place at the Muson Center was well….er…an improvement of the first edition.  Well I will start with the presenters…Charles Anazodo was confident and quite knowledgeable, which made him more or less dwarfg his delectable co presenter (sorry…cant get her name now). However his jokes were dry and flat…he should work on that if he intends getting more MC jobs. The organization was much smoother…however the video editor was hardly on cue with the nominees and I guess they could have gotten better footage of clips. It was a good sign that most of the winners were present. The Red Carpet event was smooth and the cocktail was delicious. Kudus to the organizers however the absentees were very notable….I understand not able to get Victor Moses and Mikel Obi (and getting video footage of them acknowledging the nomination was cool) however there is no excuse why Stephen Keshi was absent. Also I think Blessing should have been there or at least they should have gotten a video of her via skype or any modern day social media platform.

Overall attendance was good..the Governor of Delta state was present, the NFF President, the LMC chairman, Segun Odegbami, Nduka Ugbade, Jay Jay Okocha, Myself (of course), Mrs Gloria Obajimi and a lot of other Sports personalities. We had some Nollywood personalities too and performances by Sound sultan and Mr. Praise added more jive to the show.

On the awards itself I will post the winners soon and will also comment on some questionable nominees and winners however it was great to see the Sydney Olympic 2000 Gold medal winning Team recognized and the highlight…in my opinion was to see the young sprinter, 17 year old sprinter Divine Oduduru picked his award for discovery of the year with tears and humility…it was so touching …this was not a cash gift…it goes to show how much athletes crave to be recognized and rubbishes our minister’s new stance of not recognizing winners.

More gist soon…..

Sports Federations in 2013: THE VERDICT

I am scoring all Federations for their work this year.

I am scoring all Federations for their work this year.


Today is the D-Day as MasterSports International Limited and Unmissable Incentives Ltd  bring the 2nd edition of the Nigerian Sports Awards. It’s a sign that curtains have fallen on another eventful sports calendar. I have decided on my own, with myself as judge, prosecutor, defender and jury, to discuss and our major sports and their federations one by one and score them for their work (or lack of it).

Success or pass mark would be determined by both on field achievement and boardroom decisions taking into consideration their budgets too. So I will be giving my verdicts on what I will call THE SCORECARD!

Naturally we will score football, track and Field, Basketball, Tennis, wrestling, weight lifting, special Sports and whatever sports you may be interested in knowing about…please just send me a note or mail. We will go deep into the issues, controversies and successes of those sports and give a final score. I will try as much as to discuss all sports in the NSC’s budget….after all if it’s the people’s money being used, the people deserve to know how its spent.

Our Score will be rated as thus:
10- Absolutely Amazing. Please give board more money and keep them for life
9-Impressive. We are proud
8- Doing what you were elected to do. Good
7- Steady management.
6-On the Balance- Need to be revitalized with ideas and people
5- Partly under par mostly rubbish
4-Unimpressive. Waste of Our Money
3- Please Sack them NOW
2-Really? Do they exist?
1-Is it legal to lock them up?Awful

“You do not deserve Recognition.” Minister Tells Young Talents.


I try to encourage these future champs but the New NSC policy will just kill their morale.

I try to encourage these future champs but the New NSC policy will just kill their morale.


When we say “you have to play the game to coach/run  the game” some people feel it’s just a slogan and that once you are an administrator, you can run sports even without knowing it.

Last week, the Minister of Sports cum Chairman National Sports Commission Malllam Bolaji Abdulahi announced that athletes and teams will not get medals at the National Youth Games, which has been scheduled to hold from December 5th-15th in Abuja.

His reason: to discourage cheating. Gracious me, are we for real? Do our administrators feel they are daddies and we are kindergarten children? Well sir, this is akin to not  marking the exam scripts so that students don’t cheat. How myopic. I understand the minister has no sports background.  I understand he was a mainstream reporter for a national daily before being made special adviser to the Kwara state governor. I understand that he was appointed commissioner (Not Sports)in Kwara. I also understand that he had no idea of sports except as a football fan till he became a Minister and was told to learn on the job. But please, someone tell me, doesn’t he have advisers? Didn’t anyone tell him that even in nursery schools, pupils run for a prize? That sport is all about competition and competition is all about classification? Didn’t anyone tell him the pride an athlete feels with a medal around his neck? Didn’t anyone tell him that vigilance and good administration will prevent cheating not punishing future champions? Didn’t anyone tell him that even at the Olympics, everyone gets certificate of participation, but still winners get medals?

Please I need to know, how do we get the best talents from the Youth Games when they are told competing is not necessary?

Perhaps, if only the Minister had experienced what it is to compete as a sportsman, he would understand the value and pride

of a medal.