During the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, I followed up an incident where the Nigerian national anthem was replaced with that of Niger ahead of their opening men’s football game against Japan.
The Nigerian team had struggled to reach Manaus following bungled travel plans by the ministry of sport. They arrived less than five hours before their game and when they got out to play, were confronted with a strange music that wasn’t their national anthem.
“The benefits of marathons and road races are immense, the health benefits of walking, jogging, and running are immense as they prevent and cure many illnesses and diseases especially diabetes, hypertension and even cancer,’’ Yusuf Alli, Lagos City Marathon General Manager.
The Lagos City Marathon continues in a tradition of growing Nigerian sport from a top-down approach instead of the logical bottom-up. Last year the marathon returned with fanfare and governmental support which brought on board banking giant Access Bank as title sponsors. They have been joined by 7UP and a host of other corporates this year.
Yet, if there is something we have failed to learn in Nigeria, it is that any project largely driven by the government cannot stand the test of time. Perhaps it was why it took us almost 30 years to revive the Lagos marathon. The nostalgia of watching the race as a young man must have propelled Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to re-establish the Lagos marathon.
On Tuesday, the Nigeria Football Federation announced a nine-point integrity strategy, which if fully implemented will lead to transparency and growth of the game in the country.
The strategy intends to put a stop to several illegal actions by officials in football, one of the biggest being federation and state officials playing the roles of football agents who push their players into national teams.