By Tunde Badmus
One of the more depressing things about living in the internet age is that anybody that has data on their phones, can string together a few sentences and has access to unscrupulous bloggers think they are suddenly authorities and can say anything to anyone. Yes, the online space is an equaliser but should this mean that people of no character and questionable origins will have the audacity to lie out rightly about upstanding and hardworking people? Has the world reached the stage where any fool will be celebrated for doing the minimum in their personal lives but have the effrontery to insult their betters? For the sake of humanity, I hope not.
Sylvanus Ofekun, a pitiable excuse of a journalist, exposed his biases and loyalties with his shameful sponsored attack piece. He showed clearly that he was part of those that plotted the embarrassment of Nigeria on the global stage simply because they wanted to a pound of flesh. He is clearly on the side of the enemies of Nigeria, who set Team Nigeria up by hiding vital information about our dear athletes in the quest to make the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, look bad. Thank God that they have failed and Nigeria has done the miraculous in many ways than one at the Tokyo Olympics.
Ofekun spoke about drama in Team Nigeria. Someone should tell him that drama is nothing new. Even the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and the host, Japan, have had to deal with drama every step of the way. Barely 24 hours to the start of the event, the Creative Director of the opening ceremony was sacked. Ofekun and his sponsors can read the story here. Simone Biles, the star of Team USA, suddenly withdrew from the games, saying she could no longer trust her body. A Belarusian sprinter refused to get on a flight from Tokyo after being taken to the airport against her wishes by her team following her complaints about her country’s coaching staff.
The Olympics is organized by human beings and human interactions always bring drama. So, Ofekun, what’s new about Nigeria’s?
In his disaster of an article, Ofekun said the Minister was “earlier notified about the consequences of not carrying out three out-of-competition Doping tests on all athletes competing at the Olympics level, 8 months before the ban.” Three things are wrong with that statement. One, where is the evidence of this notification? If it was a letter, where is it? An email may be? Or was it by text message? Ofekun needs to answer. And two, how did Ofekun know about this phantom ‘notification’? Is this further evidence that he is simply the mouthpiece of the disgraced duo of Ibrahim Gusau and Sunday Adeleye? As a journalist, should Ofekun not have come to the public with that information if he had it 8 months ago? Lastly, words are important. The 10 athletes were never banned. Contrary to Ofekun’s lies, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has clarified that the athletes and 10 others from six countries were ineligible to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Games following their failure to test rigorously enough in the run-up to Tokyo 2020.
Ofekun and his dirty moneybags can read more here. As the Great Fela sang, “Shame to bad people!!”
Moreover, the authentic and globally recognized board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has publicly apologized to all Nigerians for the circumstances that led to the athletes not competing at the Tokyo Olympics. They correctly blamed Ofekun’s sponsors for the incident.
Tonobock Okowa, President of the federation, said, “As a new board, we have to take responsibility for the inaction of our predecessors (Gusau and Adeleye) and assure Nigerians that appropriate measures will always be taken at all times and in compliance with relevant World Athletics competition and anti-doping rules to protect our athletes,” he said.
But, why are we even surprised? Ofekun has always been a punch-drunk liar and has been called out on it. This is not the first time he has tried to smear the Minister’s good name. In February, the Minister petitioned Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police, to investigate Ofekun for criminal defamation. Since then, he lost his voice. But, now that he thinks the trap they set has sprung, he is back again. He failed then and has failed again.
Ofekun is merely a terrible creation of the internet age. He will be forgotten faster than yesterday’s garbage. While he is blowing the vuvuzela of his funders, the biggest surprise the come out of the Olympics, 100m Men’s Finalist, Enoch Adegoke, has the Minister, Sunday Dare, to thank for even appearing at the Tokyo Olympics at all. While they were scheming the embarrassment of their country of birth, Sunday Dare paid for the unknown home-based runner to prepare properly for the games. Through the ‘Adopt-an-Athlete’ initiative, which was conceptualized and executed by the Minister, 30 of the Tokyo Olympians got personal donations from worthy Nigerians. This is separate from the $200,000 the male and female basketball teams got. The Minister in his personal capacity believed in the 21-year-old Enoch and today he is being celebrated as one of only three Nigerians to be an Olympic Finalist.
If Ofekun’s funders had not defrauded the nation through several gimmicks, the Tokyo Olympics would have been better funded. The AFN will have to work very hard to clean up its image that has been destroyed by the thieving actions of Gusau and Adeleye. To convince sponsors will be difficult but with the savvy Sunday Dare as Minister, the future is bright. It is so bright that a billion Ofekuns cannot block it. Two medals in the kitty and more to come. Nigeria, we move!!