2018 African Senior Athletics Championships: African athletes come face to face with Nigeria’s ineptitude & typical chaos at Lagos in flight cancellations, airport sleep-overs … Tola Adenle

August 3, 2018

Africa, Sports


African Athletes stranded in Lagos – CNN

I am a consumer of athletic events as I am of many sports, and the ongoing IAAF competitions in various cities: London, Berlin, Lausanne … have prevented a big void after the high of the World Cup (WC) in Russia. I look out for Nigerian sprinter, Ms. Amusan as I enjoy the new crop of track and field athletes, especially from power houses such as the USA, Jamaica and other countries.

Several years ago before the 2010 World Cup was finally awarded to South Africa, I suggested in one of my weekly essays for Nigeria’s THE NATION ON SUNDAY that FIFA would do well NOT to take the words coming out of Nigeria by the country’s established football voices – the NFA, Segun Odegbami, et cetera, seriously. I raised an alarm that hosting the WC would empty the country’s treasury and rather than being beneficial to the country but would end up impoverishing Nigeria and her citizens.

Considering the problems that have arisen as regards the current athletics competition, allow me to first wonder aloud with the following question:
• Who decided that Asaba, a beautiful city BTW, should host the continental championships in a city beyond Lagos and Abuja the only two cities, if truth be told, with regular daily connections?
• Who signed off on the various arrangement schedules/arrangments to meet athletes at Lagos airport where, left on their own, customs officer reportedly seized athletes’ passports, documents that were not released for 34 hours?
– air transportation from Lagos to Asaba?

We all remember that South Africa did the continent proud in hosting the WC. During the much-smaller earlier continental COJA Games in Lagos in 2003, however, I remember that all sorts of what appeared to be ‘pulling fast ones’ were reported in the press:

• Problem of the non-arrival on time of the Outside Broadcasting System which cost the government over N8 billion Naira to procure; I think procurement was – not unexpectedly – by a favored relative of a family member of an oga at the top; Even petty traders, like the country and her citizens, got scammed: “Like everything Nigerian, the exercise was a dismal failure. After spending millions of dollars on this project, COJA officials financially duped innocent citizens of their capital. A scene at the stadium on Wednesday, 8th October 2003, buttresses this point. A woman was asked to open her “cooler” for inspection but she chose to die rather than have anybody touch her cooler. Her frustration, she shouted, emanated from the twenty thousand naira she paid to COJA, allowing her to bring food and drinks for sale. She was guaranteed “heaven on earth” proceeds only for her to discover that the producers of the drinks she sells are providing the drinks for sale at her cost price. In desperation she brought in sachet water for sale, which COJA officials claimed was not allowed… [allafrica.com]

While hosts of such events usually gain high visibility and publicity emanating from standards of hosting to the country concerned, Nigerians had been promised a COJA that would show visiting athletes and the whole world through the broadcasts Nigeria’s achievements, modern industrial strength, and the country’s diverse and rich cultural heritage which would encourage tourism, perhaps the only people who gained were the procurers and racketeers, pardon me.

Now, 25 years after COJA, African athletes, in preparation for the IAAF Continental Cup later this year at Ostrava, Czech Republic have been given a taste of life under the umbrella of the supposed “giant of Africa”:

“The whole Kenyan contingent was taken to a hotel somewhere in Ikeja. The hotel was already fully booked. We got a few rooms, so three people shared one bed.” Check this and other sad tales of athletes’ arrival for the Championship at cnn.com: Chaos as top African Athletes stranded at Lagos:


Beautiful a city as Asaba is, there was absolutely no reason taking a non-Nigerian sports festival to that city because of transport and logistical problems that any Nigerian of university graduate who has served the National Service could have rattled out.

How, in the world, will the athletes give peak performances after their journeys from Nairobi, Johannesburg or even nearby Ghana which took them less than a day while they stayed in Lagos till Wednesday waiting for connections to Asaba by air?

People within the IAAF (Nigeria) and/or the “Federal” Ministry of Sports must have cut corners to make money for themselves while not caring about the wellbeing of the athletes nor the damage their usual attitude has caused the country.


FRIDAY, AUGUST 3, 2018. 5:29 P.M. [GMT]

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