The leadership of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) did not hide its hard feeling about how former Minister of Sports Solomon Dalung failed in his administrative capabilities to stir the ship of Team Nigeria to a good outing at the Rio 2026 Olympic Games.
While applauding the leadership style of the incumbent Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare in taking the Nigerian contingent to two medals outing at the just concluded Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF slammed Dalung that he worked with divisive force against Nigerian athletes in Brazil
Pinnick said in a statement released Tuesday evening that Dare is “such a wonderful breath of fresh air from the immediate Minister of Sports (Dalung) who rather constituted himself into a bulwalk and divisive force against Nigerian athletes at the last Olympics in Brazil. We do not wish to recall his inglorious remarks against the football team when the team was camping in the USA. That football team eventually ended up winning Team Nigeria’s only medal – a bronze – at the Games.”
Pinnick, however, felicitated with the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the person of the Minister on Nigeria’s outing at the 32nd Olympics.
The statement said that Nigeria earned one silver and one bronze medals from the Games, with a slew of promising performances as a number of athletes reached the final of their events. For the first time since 1996, a Nigerian athlete was in the final of the glamour event of the Games – the men’s 100m sprint. Young hurdler Oluwatobiloba Amusan narrowly missed netting a medal as she finished fourth in the women’s high hurdles final.
“The Nigeria contingent may not have returned with the harvest of medals that many hoped for, but there are bright lights all around and some brilliant individual performances that give hope for the next Games in Paris. At the end of the day, the silver and bronze medals earned in Tokyo make the just-ended Olympics Nigeria’s best outing in 13 years. That is commendable.
“The Sports Minister, in his personal capacity, and the Ministry of Sports as a body worked their socks off. The Honourable Minister was exemplary; he explained, encouraged and empathized with the athletes as necessary and led the cheer at most of the venues where Nigerian athletes competed.
Pinnick was particularly delighted at the performance of multi-talented Ese Brume, who won the women’s long jump: “I am happy for Ese Brume because I played a role in her discovery and nurturing. I am fulfilled at her career progression and I believe she will be there in Paris in three years’ time to win the gold medal.
“I also pledge that our football teams will return to the Games in three years’ time in Paris and compete favourably for the gold medals.”