Nigeria performance at London Olympics is symptomatic of what is wrong with a country where one out of every five African is a Nigerian. Nigerians refer to their country as African giant due to the size of their country’s population when compared to other African countries. The question that needs to be asked is big necessarily better? The answer is probably no when one compares Nigeria performance in just concluded London Olympics with with other African countries.
During my adolescent in Nigeria, I thought that Nigeria is a power to reckon with in the world because of propaganda spread by successive military state controlled media which extols the virtues and standing of Nigeria in comity of Nations. I was lead to believe that major powers cared about what Nigeria government says since she is so wealthy, influential and populous. I believed those stories to the point that I brought Almanac of Nigeria military governors who just overthrew another military government when I moved to U.S. in early 1980’s. I thought Nigerian friends of mine here in United States will be impressed and eager to see them. To my surprise, none of my Nigerian friends took a look at the picture. Obviously their view of Nigeria changed for the better after they got here. They discovered that Nigeria is on the wrong track.
Recent 2012 London Olympics laid bare the fact that the so called self declared African giant is nothing but self adulation of people who are deluding themselves to the realities of the world they live in. How can anybody explain the fact that Nigeria with an estimated population of 170 million people as of July 2012 did not win any medal while Ethiopia, a country of about 77 million won 3 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze; Kenya, population of about 43 million won 2 gold, 4 silver, 5 bronze; Botswana (population 2 million) won 1 silver; South Africa (48 million) won 3 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze; Algeria (35 million) won 1 gold; Egypt (84 million) won 2 silver and Tunisia (10.7 million) won 1 gold, 1 silver, I bronze.
Nigeria must re-evaluate their situation and decide what they want to be and how serious they want to be taken among the comity of nations. Oil production for now is the reason why Nigeria is even taken serious right now by the major powers. Nigeria oil well is a back up for constant instability in the middle-eastern and Venezuelan oil supply. Nigerians need to realize that they cannot reap what they did not sow. They need to realize that hard work is the only part to success. Juju priests, Marabous and other mini-gods some Nigerians rely on for success are nothing but frauds.
Most if not all London Olympic medalists started training in their childhood. They put in sweat, tears of disappointments and resources to get to where they are. Nigerians will win medals if they do the same. Chinese, Americans and other nations athletes who did well in various fields are not physically stronger than Nigerians. Hardwork and perseverance made the difference. Starting Olympic training few months or years before commencement of the games will not do the trick.
Once again, prevailing believe that rampant corruption in the country have sapped the moral fabric of the nation is on full display. Who knows how the money that was allocated by the government for Olympic training was spent. I will not be surprise if the money was mismanaged or embezzled as usual. When Ethiopian athletes feel short of expectation in Beijing Olympic game four years earlier, Ethiopian government and their citizens were outraged and subsequently demanded action. Ethiopian government responded by reorganizing their olympic slate and training which resulted in better showing in 2012 London Olympics.
That is how a country that cares about her image and contribution to the world should react when they fell short of expectation. Unfortunately, Nigeria cannot seem to get her act together. It is high time we realize that nobody will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. There is no short cut in life. Couple of medals in Olympic game may seem insignificant in the overall scheme of things but it demonstrates how organized and forward looking those countries are.