Mixed reactions trail Abdullahi’s removal as sports minister

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Mar 5th, 2014
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Mixed reactions on Wednesday trailed the dropping of Bolaji Abdullahi as the Minister of Sports by the Presidency.

Some Abuja-based sports stakeholders, in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said Abdullahi’s removal would not stop the country’s sports development.

However, some other stakeholders said his exit could have a detrimental effect on growth in the sports sector.

NAN reports that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved the dropping of Abdullahi after 11 new ministers were unveiled at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa.

Abdullahi had since been replaced by Dr Tamuno Danagogo from Rivers.

In his reaction, Victor Orji, President of the Federation of Public Service Games (FEPSGA), said the development would not have any negative impact on sports development in the country.

“Government is a continuum. So, the new minister will just have to continue with the development programmes on ground.

“Since the Director-General of the National Sports Commission and the other directors are still on ground, they will not want to disrupt the good things the former minister has put in place,’’ he said.

Orji, however, commended Abdullahi for transforming the sports sector and bringing Nigeria back to winning ways.

Coach Erasmus Onuh, a former coach of Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) Football Club of Ilorin, said Abdullahi’s replacement would give him an opportunity to seek higher political office.

“There is nothing wrong in his removal, because it is a routine thing to be appointed and dropped in the Presidency.

“Abdullahi has done well within the period he occupied the office. So, he has no cause to regret his removal. His works have spoken for him,’’ Onuh said.

National beach volleyball coach, Chakuma Ismail, said Abdullahi’s removal at the time Nigeria was witnessing positive changes in sports could be a disservice.

“He has contributed very well, even though we don’t know the reasons for his removal,’’ he said.

Coach Zulu Usman of FCT volleyball team expressed fears that Abdullahi’s programmes might be halted by the new minister, and said this could affect the progress on ground.

“I was not happy when I heard that he has been removed in his absence while on national assignment in Poland.

“Now, his outlined plans and programmes may be altered by the new person coming and this is not good for us, especially now that we are witnessing good times in most of our sports.

“Abdullahi has a good record because we recorded more successes during his stay, more than some other sports ministers, and I feel he should have been left to continue,’’ he said.

Julius Ogunro, the Special Adviser on Media and Strategy to Abdullahi, on his part rued the removal of the now former minister by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Ogunro told NAN that Abdullahi was the best person he had ever worked with.

“As I am talking to you I am not sure he (Abdullahi) has even got the message of his sack, because he is air borne on his way to Poland for the world athletics indoor championship.

“The man tried his best for sports. He is the best person I have ever worked with,’’ Ogunro said.

He enumerated the achievements of Abdullahi to include the convening of the Presidential Retreat on Sports and the peace deal struck between warring parties in the Nigerian football circle.

Ogunro further listed Abdullahi’s achievements to include the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) won by Nigeria after 19 years and the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

“Other achievements include the establishment of the League Management Company (LMC) to reposition the elite domestic league and the introduction of the National Youth Games (NYG), among others,’’ he said.

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