Nigeria's 2012 Olympic Fiasco
On August 12, the London 2012 Olympics came to a close, leaving Nigeria – the most populous black nation in the world, and the third largest economy in Africa – without a medal; not even a wooden one. To some, especially those on the outside looking in, it was a shocking outcome; however, for those who are well-versed in the internal workings of this ever soon-to-be-great nation, it was an expected end to an inglorious beginning.
Let us look at the nation’s social downward slide to the Stone Age since 1979 when it returned to democratic rule following a long term of military dictatorship, to this day:
1. Today, Nigeria has less motorable/tarred roads per 1000 kilometers than it had in 1979
2. Though it has more healthcare facilities in terms of numbers than in 1979, it has less functional healthcare capacity today.
3. Nigeria has much less pliable rail lines and far less trains today than it had at the inception of the Shagari regime in 1979.
4. Though it has more universities and other institutions of higher learning today than in 1979, it has much less quality educated graduates today; therefore, less advanced labor force for the years ahead.
5. The nation boasts more sporting facilities, health clubs and gyms today, both public and private, than in 1979; but much less pool of quality sports athletes to draw from today.
6. It has a larger and deeper pool of young, talented soccer players today than it ever had in 1979, yet much less regional, continental, and international glory to show for it.
7. Nigerian governments both at local, state, and national level, have laid miles of water pipes triple the size of 1979, yet there are fewer volumes of water flowing through those pipes today than did back then.
8. The nation has much more court houses, and judges, today than it did in 1979, but disposes much less cases today per 100 criminals.
9. Nigeria has more advanced power-generating equipments and technical know-how today than in 1979, yet it generates much less power than it did in that year per 1000 citizens.
10. It has much more human capital today (about 48% of its population are still in the labor force age bracket of 15-45) than in 1979, but much less productivity today.
11. There are more manufacturing companies in Nigeria today than there were in 1979, but much less products are manufactured today. Rather, these companies re-package products from Asia and Europe for sale in Nigeria
12. In 1979, Nigeria’s GDP and GNP, in relation to its population, had a much higher human development index than it does today, even with a much higher and faster rate of technological advancement today than in 1979.
13. Though Nigeria had much fewer elementary schools and teachers in 1979 than today, the ratio of students to teachers in our elementary schools today is much higher, even with triple the number of available elementary schools.
One can go on and on, but I am sure you get the picture.
While Nigeria may be an economically progressive nation, it is sliding back to the Stone Age in terms of provisions of social amenities to its citizens, because the windfalls of its economic success is not being properly harvested and invested in social infrastructures meant to improve the lot of the people. That is why, in 2012, a nation like Nigeria, with its entire natural and human resources will invest the sum of N2.3b in its Olympics preparation and come away from London with nothing more than shopping bags from Harrods and Mark and Spencer. That is the Nigeria we have today, and the same one we will see in Rio come 2012.
The London 2012 Olympics reminds us, once more, that when one fails to plan, one plans to fail. It has been Nigeria’s motto for many years. While other countries have been adopting one or more sports even and working tirelessly to improve on it, Nigeria has elected to adopt ALL sports events and improve on NONE. As is always the case, when we suffer these colossal failures, a committee of inquiry will be set up to investigate why we failed- the fact that we all know why we failed is not even a factor. At the end of these investigations, promises will be made but never kept, and come the next time (in this case Rio 2016), the powers that be will wait till a month to the event to release funds for trainings that should have begun 12 months prior. Is that the conduct of a nation that wants to progress? A resounding NO!
One thing is clear in life; you can only win if you want to win. Medals in Olympics are not awarded by Transparency International and, as one Nigerian writer pointed out, there are no medals given out for corruption. If Nigeria wants to win medals in the biggest event on the international stage, it will have to move from “wanting to be” to “being” a force to reckon with.