Sadiq A. Abdullahi
1. Many of you have written about me in the mid-1980s about my lack of high level performance at continental and international competitions despite having the potential to be outstanding. Recall that I was discovered as an elite tennis player at 14; left for the Unites States at 19; played professional tennis including the Davis Cup and the Olympics in 1988; and taught the game with the late Arthur Ashe for four years. Now as an educator and college professor of social and global education and curriculum studies, I see sports development and improvement differently.
2. Since 2009, I have been involved in various high level discussions with Dr. (Chief) Patrick Ekeji and Sani Ndanusa (former minister of sports) about tennis development and improvement in Nigeria. I have sent various documents including a” Blueprint for Tennis Development and Improvement in Nigeria (2011) to them for review. Both Ekeji and Ndanusa have endorsed it.
3. Yes, I was invited to the National Sports Retreat to share my experience and thoughts on how to improve the NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR SPORTS. I could not attend because it was a one day event. Since the retreat ended, I have been following the commentaries (positive and negative) and I thought it is time to get into the conversation by writing of two essays:
(A) The First Presidential National Sports Retreat: Why do some countries excel in sports and others do not?
(B) The Hope for Nigeria: Sports Sector Faces Difficult Challenges Ahead. These articles will be my contributions to the debate about the ROLE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN SPORTS DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA.
4. His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, whether advised correctly or not, has laid out his vision and offered mandate to the sports sector. I have written elsewhere that the steps and approaches to tennis development and improvement elsewhere in the world . Sports development everywhere follow the same framework and structure. Investment in programs, coaches, and in athletes are crucial. We may have situational and ideological differences on how to achieve our desired outcomes in Nigeria. Until we address these challenges, we should expect to continue to have ideological fights to control the meagre resources in the sports sector. Nigeria has a complex and complicated history and painful past.
5. His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was very clear in his declaration, justification and directive to the Finance Miister Ngozi Okojo Iweala and Sports Minister Bolaji Abdullahi to work out a sustainable comprehensive plan for SPORTS FINANCING AND DEVELOPMENT.
6. To reverse the abuse of sports and forge a new path requires a new breed of thinkers and implementer working with the old brigade.
7. The Mckenzie Factor: This organisation may indeed bring some organisation, transparency, accountability, and coordination to the whole process. Let’s give them a chance.
8. NSC should now endeavour to include Nigerians in Diaspora in the conversation. We are ready to make a contribution.
9. I am optimistic, hope, and convinced that my generation has a duty and obligation to fight for ALL sports development and improvement in Nigeria.
10. I look forward to your reactions: I can be reached at 305-331-8083.
Dr. Sadiq A. Abdullahi is a visiting Senior Lecturer, Federal University Kashere, Nigeria Adjunct Professor, College of Education, Florida International University Chair, Educational Excellence School Advisory Council.
Sadiq A. Abdullahi