The federal government has charged participating Nigeria athletes representing the country in the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics not to go below the six medals record set at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Minister of Youth and Sports Development Sunday Dare set the benchmark during the inauguration of the newly constituted Caretaker Committees for 30 National Olympic Sports Federations in Abuja on Tuesday.
Dare, in his address, defended the devolution of the federations, arguing that it has become necessary after the expiration of their tenures and fact that the Tokyo Olympics is less than 90 days.
‘The Caretaker Committees are thus specially selected to reflect our aspirations towards podium appearances at the Tokyo Olympics. Nigeria has won just one medal in the last two Olympics, the 2012 Olympics in London and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The medal, a bronze came in the Football event and this is unacceptable to us as Nation. This is what we must all try to change,’ the sports minister said
‘With the performances of our athletes in pre-Olympics circuit and championships, it is crystal clear we have the talents to excel at the Games and even get close to our performance at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 where we won a total of six medals including the gold in the men’s Football event and the women’s Long Jump.
‘That benchmark is something we must not go below again and the wrangling in some of the Sports Federations going to the Olympics will not help our preparations.
‘I believe what Nigerians want is for us to better our performance in 1996 and they should support whatever decisions we take that are geared towards achieving that benchmark of 1996 or even surpass it. My message to the Caretaker Committees is simple: This is not the time to play politics but the time towards putting Nigeria among the medal winners in Tokyo,’ Dare charged.
On the reason for setting up Caretaker Committee, the minister said: ‘I welcome you all to this physical and virtual inauguration of the Caretaker Committees set up after the dissolution of the boards of the 30 National Olympic Sports Federations.
‘The dissolution became necessary because of the expiration of their tenures. It is also important because of the Tokyo Olympics which is less than 90 days away and which not only requires that all hands are on deck but also because continuity is necessary to ensure preparations for the Games are not hampered in any way.
‘I want to warn that we will not hesitate to remove any Caretaker Committee of any of the Federations that work at cross purposes with our aspirations.
‘It is also important for the Caretaker Committees to know that their jobs terminate immediately after the Olympics as elections into the Federations will be guided by their constitutions and the Code of Governance.
‘For Federations with Constitutions not yet ratified by their International bodies, the Code of Governance drawn up by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development will be used to conduct elections into their various boards.
‘In conjunction with the Nigeria Olympic Committee, we will ask these federations to draw up their constitution not later than six months after the inauguration of the new boards,’ he stated.