In the wake of Nigeria’s embarrassing performance at the just concluded London Olympics, Julius Ogunro, a top aide to Nigeria’s Minister of Sports, has argued that the country should have provided more funds for the games.
Mr. Ogunro, a media aide to Minister of Sports Bolaji Abdullahi, made the statement in an exclusive SaharaTV interview on Saturday, August 18. The aide was responding to questions about the reasons behind worst Olympic performance in over 20 years.
Many Nigerians are outraged that their government spent about 2.2 billion naira ($13 million) to send 51 athletes to the London Games and yet failed to come away with a single medal. Asked to comment on the N2.2 billion Olympics budget, Mr. Ogunro said, “If we had had much more money, earlier than [the time that they received the funds], we would have invested it much more appropriately.”
However, the aide lamented that the lateness of the funds’ disbursement and the lack of preparation might have been more serious factors than the money itself. He added, “Even if we got one billion dollars, we still would not have achieved much.”
Mr. Ogunro disclosed that the intense training for Nigeria’s athletes did not start until two to three months before the start of the London Games.
Mr. Ogunro claimed that the lateness of funding, negative aspects of Nigerian culture, and the attitude of athletes were all factors that contributed to Nigeria’s poor performance at the Olympics. He called the past medals that came to Nigeria at the 1996 Olympics as “chance.”
The ministerial aide stated that Nigeria did not have anything close to the funding enjoyed such top performing nations as the United States and China. Saying that he did not want to “apportion blame,” Mr. Ogunro blamed Nigeria’s poor showing at the Olympics on systemic failure.
Nigerians on social media reacted angrily to Mr. Ogunro’s explanations for Team Nigeria’s disastrous performance. Irked by Mr. Ogunro’s comment that the ministry should have had more funds to prepare for the games, some commentators reacted with such words as “rubbish” and “nonsense.” Several commentators also suggested that huge chunks of the 2.2 billion naira probably fell into the hands of corrupt officials.